Taco ranch pizza

This recipe is for the pizza that made me fall in love with Sim. It is from the days when he owned and operated a pizza place, and when heart shaped orders of breadsticks were a staple in my life. This is also my family’s favorite pizza, which was often delivered to their house in   Leavenworth. But the person who likely loves this pizza the most is my sister, Anna. As Anna and her husband prepare to move to Denmark, I want to share this recipe so that it never dies. I  imagine I’ll transport a pizza to them someday, chilled in my suitcase with ice packs and other goodies from the states, just as our grandparents did with Danish cheeses, chocolate, beer, and schnapps every year when they would visit from Denmark. Yes, my grandparents would haul beer across the world, Elephant beer to be exact. True alcoholics, some would say. True Danes, I say!

But back to the pizza. After becoming a vegetarian a few years ago, this was something I was heartbroken about giving up. This pizza needs the flavor and texture of taco meat. Thankfully I discovered Gimme Lean vegan ground “beef”. Same flavor and texture, but no fat, cholesterol, chemicals, hormones, or large carbon footprint. They also make a pre-seasoned taco version but it’s harder to find. So just add a little water and a packet of taco seasoning to the faux meat, simmer for 5-10 minutes, and voila! It tastes amazing and crumbles on pizza (or whatever) perfectly.

As for Sim’s special dough recipe, that I won’t divulge. But if you live near me, I will show you how to toss it! Pizza party, anyone!?

Ingredients:
  • Ranch dressing
  • 1 can of vegetarian refried beans (or make your own)
  • 1 package Gimme Lean faux beef
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (an 80/10/10 blend of mozzarella/provolone/cheddar is ideal)
  • ½ cup green bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup red onions, diced
  • ¼ cup jalapeños, sliced
  • ½  cup tomatoes, diced (can cook on pizza or add fresh after cooking)
  • Optional: 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • Optional: ½ cup black olives, sliced

Also: Can top with crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, salsa, avocado slices, or chipotle sauce.

Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Toss dough and spread on pizza screen (screens cook better than pans). Don’t aim for a thick crust for this pizza; regular or thin crust will cook better with these toppings.
  • Warm refried beans and spread across pizza dough (cold/room temp. beans won’t spread well)
  • Pour ranch dressing over refried beans and spread until even
  • Sprinkle on most of cheese
  • Sprinkle on toppings
  • Sprinkle on last handful of cheese
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes. Every pizza and oven is different, and this is a tricky pie to cook all the way through because of the beans and ranch in the middle, plus the moist toppings (veggies emit more water when cooking than a solely meat pizza would). Monitor how pie looks on top but also lift edge of crust with pizza paddle to check the bottom of crust; it is ready when the very bottom is golden brown, in addition to the edges of crust on top.
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