Vegan Pizza with Pesto and Heirloom Tomatoes
Pesto pizza with colorful heirloom tomatoes is perfect for summer. This delicious cheeseless vegetarian and vegan pizza is light and delicious.
The summer is coming to a close and while I’m craving getting back into a routine, back to school, back to exercise and my work, I’m also savoring these last few days. These long but precious days with my girls home snuggling up with movies, and these days filled with grapes and figs picked from the backyard trees, and juicy farmers market tomatoes.
Summer produce is some of my favorite, especially tomatoes and basil. This pesto pizza with heirloom tomatoes is a simple, delicious, and beautiful summer appetizer, lunch, or dinner recipe. Let’s check out how to make it!
How to Make Vegan Pizza
There are two different ways to make make vegan pizza. Whether you’re lactose intolerant or avoid dairy for ethical or environmental reasons, there’s no reason to miss out on pizza! The first way to make vegan dairy-free pizza is to go the traditional route and use diary free cheese. These days there are several delicious options. And as a cheese lover, that’s a lot coming from me. My first choice is Miyoko’s Mozz, which is made with clean ingredients and melts beautifully. Other brands that work well are Parmela’s Creamery, So Delicious, and Daiya. Perhaps we need to do a vegan cheese review.
The second way to make vegan pizza is to skip the cheese all together. It might sound crazy at first, but when you load a crust and flavorful sauce up with veggies and salty ingredients like olives, it’s actually still delicious. In this vegan pizza recipe with pesto sauce and heirloom tomatoes I’ve skipped the cheese. I mean, tomatoes on bread has never been a bad thing. Think Authentic Tomato Bruschetta and Spanish Tomato Bread!
Fresh tomatoes are so beautiful in the summer. Every year from around June through September, a few of our tomato recipes like Fresh Tomato Salsa, Fresh Tomato Marinara, and Heirloom Tomato, Orzo, and Kale Salad, and Heirloom Tomato and Greens Lasagna go completely crazy! Rightfully so – those are some of my favorite tomato recipes too.
Step 1: Prepare or Buy Pizza Dough
Are you wondering if pizza dough is vegan? The answer is yes, mostly. The ingredients in pizza dough are simple: flour, yeast, water, and a little sugar to feed the yeast. Sometimes people use honey to feed the yeast, which would not be vegan. Either way, I have a bunch of tips on how to make the best Italian pizza dough in this post. Spoiler: I love to use imported Italian pizza flour. If your pizza dough was refrigerated or you bought fresh dough from the grocery store, be sure it’s room temperature before getting started or it will be difficult to shape.
We made this heirloom tomato and pesto vegan pizza recipe two times during recipe testing, as you can see by the photos. The first time we used homemade dough on a Sunday, and the second we used store bough rectangular pizza crusts. The choice is yours and there’s no right or wrong – go with whatever fits into your day.
Step 2: Make or Buy Basil Pesto
Hop over to our Walnut Basil Pesto recipe and whip it up in the food processor. I love the contrast between the green pesto and the colorful heirloom tomatoes, but if you prefer you can use my classic Italian Pizza Sauce. Store bought pesto is totally okay too.
Step 3: Assemble the Pizza & Bake
Roll the dough out on well floured surface so it’s easy to transfer to the oven. Pro tip: preheat a pizza stone on the hottest oven setting for 1 hour to get perfectly crispy-on-the-bottom fresh pizza crust. If you’re not super confident with your pizza transfer skills, roll onto a sheet of parchment paper and bake on that.
Top with a layer of pesto and sliced tomatoes. Top with red onion slices now if you like them mellow, or add after baking for more punch. I prefer the second way. If using fresh pizza dough bake until the crust is golden brown and the bottom is crisp. If using pre-cooked pizza crust, follow package directions.
Cut into squares (for rectangular pizza) or slices (for round pizza) and enjoy warm. We felt like this pizza needed a little more salty flavor, and a small handful of Kalamata olives and a sprinkle of raw red onion was perfect. If you like crunch, some toasted pine nuts on top would be tasty too. Always add fresh basil leaves after the pizza is out of the oven and has cooled a minute or they will turn brown.
Tips for the Best Vegan Pizza
- Use quality vegan cheese like Miyoko’s or skip it
- When skipping cheese, add something salty like Kalamata olives or capers
- Use a flavorful sauce like Vegan Pesto or Italian Pizza Sauce
- Load with tons of veggies
- 1 recipe pizza dough or store-bought dough
- 1 recipe vegan pesto
- 1 red heirloom tomato, sliced 1/4" crosswise
- 1 green heirloom tomato, sliced 1/4" crosswise
- 1 yellow or orange heirloom tomato, sliced 1/4" crosswise
- pinch salt and pepper
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup halved, pitted Kalamata olives
- Preheat the oven with a pizza stone at 500 degrees F for 1 hour.
- Roll and stretch the pizza dough on a floured surface and/or a piece of parchment paper until about 1/4" thick.
- Top with a layer of pesto. Arrange heirloom tomato slices on top of the pesto, cutting as needed to fit like a puzzle. Season tomatoes with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Use a pizza peel to transfer the pizza (with parchment if needed) to the pizza stone. Bake until the crust is crisp, about 8 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cut into slices. Top with basil, olives, and onions.
1. Feel free to use store bought fresh pizza dough or pre-cooked crust. We used a rectangular store bought crust for the pictures. If using pre-cooked crust or cauliflower crust, follow package directions for baking.
2. This is a cheseless pizza idea, but if you'd like some cheese, I recommend fresh Mozzarella style such as Miyoko's mozz.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 230 Total Fat: 13g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 258mg Carbohydrates: 28g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 4g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 2g