Chicago deep dish pizza: it’s like a pizza and a savory pie all in one. This is everything a pizza should be. The crust is thick and hearty. The sauce is chunky and spicy. The cashew mozzarella is melty and gooey. The sauce only takes about 15 minutes and you can roll out the dough while the sauce cooks. If you make the cheese ahead of time, this pizza comes together pretty quickly!
Chicago Deep Dish Pizza With Cashew Mozzarella [Vegan]
For the Pizza:
- 4 cups small tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped basil
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Pizza dough of your choice
- 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- 2-3 tablespoons flour, to roll out dough
- 1 batch cashew mozzarella (recipe below)
For the Cashew Mozzarella:
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours or boiled for 10 minutes
- 1 1/4 cup filtered water
- 1/4 cup tapioca starch
- 1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
To Make the Pizza:
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Prepare the cashew mozzarella according to the recipe below and set aside.
- For the sauce, small tomatoes are recommended because they are more flavorful and hold their shape better in the sauce. Cherry tomatoes also work well cut in half.
- Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. With a small amount of water or cooking oil, sauté the chopped tomatoes, garlic, and tomato paste for 5 minutes. Stir in the basil, salt, fennel seed, and red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
- While the sauce is cooking, stretch out the pre-made pizza dough into a semi-flat disc on a floured surface. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of corn meal onto the dough a few tablespoons at a time, kneading it into the dough until it’s mostly uniform. Roll out the dough to a 10-12-inch circle and sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of cornmeal into the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan.
- Carefully place the dough onto the cake pan. The dough should slightly hang over the edges or it will want to retract into a smaller piece. This part can be tricky. If the dough won’t stay, try stretching it out a bit so more of the dough hangs over the edge. This will keep the dough in place.
- Using a spoon, spread the cashew mozzarella evenly onto the bottom of the cake pan. Top it with the sauce and smooth out the top. Unfold the edges of the dough from the lip of the cake pan. It will sink down into the pan a bit. You want it to be slightly taller than the filling. Use your fingers to even out the top of the dough. It doesn’t have to be perfect. The rustic look will add to the finished pizza.
- Cook your pizza for 25-30 minutes at 450°F until the crust is golden brown. Let it cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
To Make the Cashew Mozzarella:
- Soak your cashews for 2 hours or overnight then drain. You can also boil them for 10 minutes if you’re short on time.
- In a high-speed blender, combine the soaked cashews with water, lemon juice, tapioca flour, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, white pepper, and sea salt. Blend for 1 minute on high until smooth.
- Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Pour the cashew mixture into the saucepan. It will begin to form into a solid right away. Cook the cheese for 3-5 minutes until it becomes a large gooey ball in the center, stirring constantly so it cooks evenly and doesn’t stick to the bottom. The cheese will remain soft and melty. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.