The magic question, “How can you make pizza without cheese?” The first thing that might come to mind is dairy-free cheese alternative. Perfectly plausible, but we usually find it completely unnecessary for a good dairy-free pizza worthy of serving to family and friends for a celebration, football Sunday, or even a quick dinner or lunch.
When living at Lake Tahoe, we threw a smashing holiday party. Every morsel of food was devoured, taking away any shred of evidence that the entire spread was completely dairy-free. Over a year later, my good friend was still arguing, “That pizza had cheese on it!” Oh no, it didn’t.
The Key to Amazing Dairy-Free Pizza
As they say, the simplest foods are often the best, and our homemade pizza is no exception. Sometimes, we make it all from scratch, which really isn’t a monumental feat. The pizza crust (both the white-wheat crust and gluten-free recipes that we use are in Go Dairy Free) takes just 10 minutes to throw together, and the sauce can be as simple as freshly roasted tomatoes and garlic pureed with some salt and garnished with oregano.
These ingredients provide a simple and delicious base, but the true star of a good dairy-free pizza is …. uncured salame. How? The flavor qualities savored in cheese are pungency, richness and salt. All three of these are embodied in good quality salami and pepperoni, and can even fool the taste buds into thinking it is a “normal” pizza. (Note: We like to add some olives for an extra dose of pungent goodness).
But not all salami is created equal. Many brands use nitrates/nitrites and other additives. To avoid this, we use Columbus Farm to Fork Naturals, which seems to be popping up in stores now (we got some in Raley’s supermarkets here).
Columbus started nearly 100 years ago (wow!) in San Francisco. Their quality hasn’t waivered, but they are transitioning into the sustainable market with this line. The Farm to Fork Naturals Salame (so many flavors to choose from!) is nitrate-free, nitrite-free (except for naturally occurring nitrites in celery, cherry or parsley powder), gluten-free, and made without additives, artificial ingredients, preservatives and MSG. The animals are humanely raised, without antibiotics or hormones, and fed 100% vegetarian diets. Whew!
The pictured pizzas are actually gluten-free, with crusts from Venice Bakery (we really liked their original mini crusts!), the sauce was just organic tomato paste whisked with some garlic, salt, oregano, pepper, and water, to get the right consistency. A bit ghetto, I know, but it was fabulous and can be adjusted to taste – though a good quality tomato paste is required for such a simplified sauce. I’ve included other sauce options in the recipe below.
We then topped each little dairy-free pizza with olive slices and Columbus Fennel and Italian Salame (I love fennel on pizza!) – ready in just 10 minutes and quickly devoured for our lunches all week long! Pair with a side salad for a lovely dinner, or simply slice into quarters and serve as a tasty app at your next gathering.
- Pizza crusts (my homemade recipes, gluten-free, or "just" dairy-free store-bought)
- Tomato sauce (my "ghetto" version above, quick homemade, or store-bought)
- Sliced or diced black olives
- Fresh or dried oregano, optional
- Crushed red pepper, optional
- Uncured Salame (we like Columbus Farm to Fork Fennel and Sopressetta Salame)
- If your pizza crust isn't cooked, pre-bake as needed.
- Top pizza with sauce, followed by a smattering of olives, oregano and/or crushed red pepper (if desired), and copious amounts of sliced salame - be sure to overlap as they will shrink slightly upon cooking.
- Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the salame begins to sizzle. If desired, broil for a couple of minutes to crisp up the salame.