For this vegan caramelized onion pizza, the wow factor comes from mushroom “bacon.” Caramelized onion pizza, often called pizza Niçoise, is a classic, for good reason — it’s incredibly delicious, with little further embellishment.
You can make almost anything taste (and smell) like bacon with just a few ingredients, and spare the poor animal. And even if these preparations don’t exactly remind you of bacon, the flavor and aroma are addictive in their own right — sweet, salty, and smoky. Anything you add your faux bacon to will be that much better.
Can another type of mushroom be used? Absolutely. Use cremini, portobello, or oyster mushrooms. Or mix a few varieties.
My favorite ingredient to “baconize” is shiitake mushrooms. Their mouth feel and texture are so appealing. Once you make them for this pizza, you’ll want to make them again and again for other uses. They’re great in sandwiches and wraps, and used as a topping for simple pasta and grain dishes. For more details, see How to Make Vegan Mushroom “Bacon.”
Crust options: Use your favorite all-natural prepared crust if you don’t make your own (I often don’t; too lazy!). For this recipe, you’ll need one 12- to 14-inch round crust or two large rectangular flatbread crusts (about 12 by 6 inches each).
If you prefer to DIY, try this easy recipe for Whole Wheat or Spelt Pizza Crust.
For me, pizza is more about letting the toppings shine. Feel free use thin or thick crust, according to your preference. Of course, you can also use cauliflower crust, which is a fantastic option for this recipe. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or liquid aminos
- 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
- 5 to 6 ounces sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon barbecue seasoning (mesquite, smoky maple, or other; see Note)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 medium onions, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups vegan mozzarella or pepper jack shreds, or a combination
- 12-to 14-inch pizza crust, or two large flatbread pizza crusts, or homemade Whole Wheat & Spelt Pizza Crust (see link in Notes)
- Small basil leaves or thinly sliced baby spinach or arugula leaves for garnish, optional
- For the shiitake bacon, combine the syrup, sauce and oil in a medium skillet. Stir to combine.
- When the mixture start to bubble, add the shiitakes and stir to coat. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until they begin to brown and get crisp here and there, about 8 minutes.
- Sprinkle in the seasoning, and stir quickly to distribute. Cook for another minute or two over low heat, then remove from the heat and set aside.
- At this point, begin to heat the oven to the temperature suggested on the packaging of the crust you’re using. Usually, it’s 425º F or 450º F.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the onions and cook slowly over low heat until soft and very lightly browned, stirring often. This should take about 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle the vegan cheese evenly over the surface of the crust or crusts, followed by the caramelized onions, and finally, the shiitakes.
- Refer to the packaging from the crust to see what the recommended baking method is — on a pan, a pizza stone, or right on the oven’s shelves.
- Bake in the fully heated oven until the cheese is well melted and crust is golden brown on the bottom. Once again, refer to the packaging from the crust to get a sense of recommended time. Remember that each oven is a bit different so keep your eyes on those pies and don’t let them burn!
- Remove from the oven and let stand for a minute or so, then cut into wedges or sections to serve.
Variation: If you don’t care to make your own shiitake bacon, use a prepared vegan bacon product like Fakin’ Bacon. I’d say about 5 or 6 strips would be about right; chop them into small pieces and cook on a lightly oiled skillet until browned and crisp on most sides.
Another variation: Use about a half cup of chopped black olives instead of the shiitake bacon.
A note about the barbecue seasoning: You’ll find these kinds of seasoning blends in the spice section of supermarkets. Varieties including mesquite, smoky maple, and just plain barbecue. They're all good! McCormick is a common brand.
Here's this site's easy recipe for Whole Wheat & Spelt Pizza Crust.
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See this site’s entire collection of vegan pizzas