One Large Pizza, Hold the Cheese

June 13, 2013

Every other Thursday, Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw shares satisfying, flavorful recipes that also happen to be vegan.

Today: Gena shows us that vegan pizza can be just as exciting as its cheesy counterparts. 

Asparagus Pizza with Vegan Pesto

Shop the Story


With a stellar crust, a rotation of fresh vegetables, and a brightly flavored sauce, you’ll hardly miss the cheese in vegan pizza. And if you keep some dough in the freezer, pizza is a quick and easy-to-customize dinner. I like to change it up with the seasons: butternut squash and sage in autumn, caramelized onions or cauliflower in winter, tomatoes and peppers in summer -- you get the idea.


When creating a vegan pizza from scratch, I like to think about three things: a bold, flavorful sauce (pesto, homemade marinara, or even a tapenade), a vegetable that stands up well to roasting (fennel, mushrooms, asparagus, onions, peppers, or tomatoes), and something that gives the pizza texture and contrast (I often sprinkle on fresh greens at the end, or if I’ve topped the pie with a crunchier vegetable, I’ll use a soft cashew cheese). 

More: Skeptical about cheeseless pesto? Gena's recipe will make you a believer.

This spring pizza has it all: tender spring asparagus, peppery arugula, an easy, forgiving dough, and a burst of flavor and umami from fresh pesto. If you can’t get your hands on asparagus, broccoli and artichokes will work nicely, too. Serve the pizza with a fresh salad for dinner or slice it into strips as an impressive appetizer.

Vegan Pesto

Asparagus and Arugula Pizza with Vegan Pesto 

Serves 4

1/2 recipe (2 disks) Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough1 batch simple vegan pesto
12 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut in half
2 cups loosely packed, fresh arugula

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

Order now

The Food52 Vegan Cookbook is here! With this book from Gena Hamshaw, anyone can learn how to eat more plants (and along the way, how to cook with and love cashew cheese, tofu, and nutritional yeast).

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Dianecpa
  • the totally not-foolish pucko
    the totally not-foolish pucko
  • Salinya
  • Gena Hamshaw
    Gena Hamshaw
  • Marian Bull
    Marian Bull
Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.


Dianecpa June 16, 2013
the T. June 16, 2013
I should think a health food store or a co-op is you best bet. A big grocery might have it in their natural/organic/health food section, likely the same place where flours/cornmeal/powders/seeds are, or where the vitamins/protein powders are.
Dianecpa June 16, 2013
Where do I find nutritional yeast? health food store or grocery?
Gena H. June 17, 2013
You can also find it on Amazon, Dianecpa, or at any health food store (per the above) or whole foods.
Salinya June 14, 2013
This looks great for people like me who are trying to cut out or at least cut back on dairy.
the T. June 13, 2013
Your "full recipe" has everybody turn on the oven and do nothing with it, fyi.
Marian B. June 13, 2013
Sorry for the inconvenience -- the recipe has been updated!
Salinya June 14, 2013
I admit I've done that a few times...