How To: Summer-Inspired Toppers for Your Gluten-Free Pizza! (Vegan & Dairy-Free Options)
Don’t get me wrong—I love me some classic pizza toppings, but I wanted to come up with some fresh summer-inspired pizza toppings now that our local farmer’s market has reopened and spring weather is (finally) here.
Since I just stocked my freezer with single-serve pizza crusts, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try out some bright, bold flavors on my gluten-free pizza. Because I know lots of you are also dairy-free, I challenged myself to figure out some cheese-less combinations that were just as flavorful and satisfying as your standard pizza.
I intended to try grilling some of the crusts, but…life…
If you’d like to give grilling your pizzas a try, I’ve adapted instructions from the Weber site for our pre-cooked frozen crusts:
If using a charcoal grill, prepare the grill for direct and indirect cooking by arranging the charcoal over ⅔ of the fuel grate. Leave ⅓ of the grate empty so you have a safety zone in case the pizza starts to burn.
If using a gas grill, preheat on medium heat, about 350-400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Keep all of the burners set to medium.
* Note: I don’t use indirect heat on gas because if the pizza is starting to burn I can just turn the burner off. You can’t do that on a charcoal grill so I always keep that indirect zone available on charcoal.
Top your frozen crust with preferred toppings and cook 10 minutes directly on the grill grates. Rotate 90° and cook for 10 more minutes (or until crust is golden and crispy and toppings are cooked to your liking).
You will find links to specific recipes at the end of the post. The following are general recommendations for creating your own summer-inspired pizza.
Sauce: Keep it light and fresh. Standard marinara/tomato sauce always works, but if you are looking for something new, try spreading ricotta, vegan pesto, hummus, or olive tapenade or drizzle your favorite oil and herbs or aged/reduced balsamic vinegar on your crust for a fun sauce alternative. If you elect to have a non-tomato-based sauce and still want tomato flavor, try experimenting with fresh tomatoes (salt & drain them first to prevent soggy pizza), sundried tomatoes, or tomatillos.
Cheese: If you prefer classic mozzarella flavors, try fresh burrata, buffalo mozzarella, or bocconcini (click here to learn more about the different types of mozzarella). Looking for something a little different? Goat cheese, feta cheese, and brie are great options for sweet or savory pizzas.
Dairy-Free Options: If you are vegan or dairy-free, beef up the pizza flavors with bright fresh herbs, hearty mushrooms, and/or good quality olive oil. I found that the cornmeal crust when combined with an oil-based sauce has an almost parmesan-like texture. You can also sprinkle almond meal on top in place of parmesan or pecorino, giving your pizza a satisfying crunch when you bite into it (as well as a nice presentation!).
Other Toppers: Vegetables like mushrooms (soak dried mushrooms for 15 minutes to have “fresh” mushrooms on hand whenever you want them), squash, peppers (sweet and spicy!), grilled/caramelized onions, and whatever greens you have on hand can add lots of flavor and make your pizza so much more nutritious and filling. For a fun treat, pair savory toppings like pancetta or grilled chicken with fresh berries, dried figs, or summer fruits (apples, peaches, cherries). Don’t forget to include fresh herbs like basil, parsley, chives, or cilantro. For cooler nights, add some dried rosemary and thyme (they pair wonderfully with mushrooms) for a warm and comforting twist on your favorite summer pizza flavors.
Get creative, have fun, and use this opportunity to bulk up your pizza with your favorite flavors. If you’d like some specific suggestions, check out these fun recipes:
olive oil, sauteed pancetta & onions, figs, goat cheese, and greens
vegan pesto, porcini mushrooms, sweet bell peppers, and parsley
olive oil, fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fontina, asiago, parmesan, and herbs
olive oil, dried rosemary & thyme, soaked porcini mushrooms, greens, and herbs
I have plans to make a ricotta, blackberry, and basil (drizzled with aged balsamic vingear, obviously) pizza soon. I’ll let you know how it turns out!