Mexican Pizza; Lentil Orzo Soup

I’m just going to skip having a Thanksgiving post, because my Thanksgiving was nearly identical to last year, and although Mark has been happily gorging himself on leftovers, I didn’t do anything particularly creative or unusual. I hope everyone – even you non-Americans – had a great Thanksgiving, however!

As per my usual routine, I moved two pizza doughs from the freezer to the refrigerator before the weekend. We usually end up having pizza at some point during the weekend, but what with the Thanksgiving leftovers and various social obligations, it didn’t happen this weekend. Which left me with pizza dough that I needed to use tonight. But I wanted to try a different approach from my usual, pretty traditional pizza, so tonight I made Mexican pizza:

Here’s what I did:

Mexican Pizza

up to 4 batches individual-sized pizza doughs
12-16 oz vegan ground “beef” (“mince” for you non-Americans)
1 packet taco seasoning (I found some taco seasoning for yuppies packet at Wegmans)
8 oz tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp Mexican oregano
canned or fresh jalapeno, sliced
vegan mozzarella, grated (I used Cheezley)
vegan cheddar, grated (I used Daiya)

Preheat the oven and a pizza stone to 550 Fahrenheit (or as high as it will go).

In a heavy sauce pot, heat some olive oil, then add the ground “beef”, saute the ground beef, add the taco seasoning, and saute another minute. Add the tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, and oregano. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Shape the pizza dough for each pizza and place on a peel. Spread the sauce mixture evenly on each pizza, then top with jalapeno slices and mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Bake until done, about 5 minutes.

Next up is just a quick soup I threw together last week when I wasn’t feeling that great. I didn’t take pictures of the process or write it up earlier, because at the time I just wanted something soothing in my belly, but I did snap a photo of the finished product and it was very simple and really tasty, so, if I remember correctly, here’s what I did:

Lentil Orzo Soup

2-4 shallots (depending on size), or 1/2 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
red pepper flakes, if you are so inclined (to taste)
4 cups vegan stock or broth
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup brown lentils
1/2 cup orzo (or other small pasta)
2 cups baby spinach
salt, to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon

Bring some olive oil up to temperature in a heavy soup pot, then add the onions, carrots, and celery. Saute for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and saute another couple of minutes. Add the stock or broth, tomato paste, lentils, and red pepper flakes if using. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the orzo and simmer another 15 minutes. Add the spinach and taste for salt, then simmer two or three more minutes. Add the lemon juice, then serve.

In not-at-all-food-related news, I went to see Jeff Vandermeer read in Baltimore last night. I’ve been a fan of his since I read City of Saints and Madmen, and I’m currently reading his latest, Finch (which he signed for me). In fact, I have only a few more pages left and as soon as I finish this post, I’ll finish it up.

I liked this picture because from reading his blog I feel as if he and I have a similar sense of humour, so I like that I caught him laughing:

In other book news, but more food-related, I forgot to urge you all earlier to buy Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day! I was a tester for this book (my name is in it! Mark’s so impressed!) – if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ve seen photos of some of the breads – and I can assure you that even the non-vegan breads veganized beautifully. I tested all but just one or two recipes from the book; Peter was gracious enough to at least pretend he cared about my vegan input even on non-vegan-sounding breads like Crusty Cheese Bread. They were all amazing, even the Crusty (Non-Dairy) Cheese Bread and the Babka. It’s a great book for novice bread bakers as well as the more experienced. My favourite thing about it was how easy it makes it to create a bread-baking schedule that works for people who work late hours but want fresh bread during the week. Most of the recipes are scaled for two loaves of bread, so I’d mix it up and bake one loaf during the weekend, then bake the second mid-week. The recipes and techniques are clear, the bread is great, and if any of you buy it (or any of his other books) and have any questions about veganizing the recipes, I’d be happy to help you. The recipes actually call for “any kind” of milk, which he makes clear includes non-dairy milks, so mostly it’s just eggs you need to substitute. Of course, many of the recipes are vegan as written. I know I don’t do many bread recipes on this blog, although bread baking is a particular passion of mine, but the reason is I pretty much just slavishly follow Peter Reinhart’s (and Jeffrey Hamelman’s) recipes. Although I do my own thing when cooking, I’m more shy about making things up when it comes to baking, and between Reinhart and Hamelman, I figure my bases are covered. If you are at all interested in baking your own bread, Artisan Breads Every Day is a great place to start. No, I’m not making commission on the book even though I was a tester – I just think Peter Reinhart’s books are really, really good!


  1. trinity Said,

    December 1, 2009 @ 10:58 am

    The lentil orzo soup looks so delicious and healthy. I should make it today to balance out this week of eating Thanksgiving leftovers (plus birthday cake).

  2. Jes Said,

    December 1, 2009 @ 12:03 pm

    I’m loving the Mexican pizza–it looks perfectly spicy and satisfying. & Reinhart’s recipes are amazing. I’m working through Artisanal bread right now and it’s so wondeful.

  3. Josiane Said,

    December 1, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

    Both of those recipes sound awesome! It’s been way too long since the last time I made pizza… Hm, I’m sure my gentleman friend would love that I institute a pizza-every-weekend routine!

    Thanks for the book recommendation. It really sounds great. To someone who has baked bread a few times (but not nearly enough to her liking) and would like to do so more often, would you recommend this one over The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (or any of his other books)?

  4. jd Said,

    December 1, 2009 @ 7:03 pm

    That pizza looks absurdly delicious! And yay for that lentil orzo soup, too! I love orzo and am always looking for new ways to eat it 🙂

    Very cool about meeting Jeff Vandermeer – I love a good book, so I’ll definitely have to check his out…

  5. renae Said,

    December 4, 2009 @ 2:19 pm


    I meant to respond earlier – sorry. I hope you see this. As an intro to Peter Reinhart’s books, I’d say either Artisan Breads or The Bread Baker’s Apprentice are a great choice. They’re fairly similar. Some of the recipes in Artisan Breads are those he’s re-tooled from BBA, so you might say that Artisan Breads contains his latest and greatest techniques, but I LOVE BBA and wouldn’t have thought any of the recipes needed any further work. Both books rely on delayed fermentation (mix it – or at least a starter – one day, bake another), but Artisan more heavily emphasizes the ability to delay fermentation more than just one or two days (it’s usually up to four). Although I tested for Artisan, I’ve baked more heavily from BBA just because I’ve had it so long and love it, and I’ve actually only had a chance to bake one bread from the real Artisan book – instead of an email from Peter – so I’m not yet as familiar with the layout and book itself. I just know the recipes are good. Basically, I’d say buy whichever strikes your fancy: you can’t go wrong with either.

    Once you’ve gotten familiar with whichever you choose, I’d get Whole Grains. The recipes tend to be a bit more complex, and whole grains can be more difficult to work with. (The other books do have some whole grain recipes, by the way.) But it will seem pretty easy if you’ve been baking for a while. I do recommend that you read the somewhat lengthy intro, which explains his technique.

  6. Kylie Said,

    December 14, 2009 @ 10:03 pm

    I made the lentil and orzo soup over the weekend (despite it being 30 degrees) and I’m really happy with how it turned out. The sum is greater than any of its parts.

RSS feed for comments on this post

Leave a Comment