I didn’t become a vegetarian to save the animals. In truth I spent a lot of years fairly uneducated about the subject and thinking, ”Aren’t they raised for us to eat? Aren’t they a renewable resource?” Of course I was about 20 at the time, and eating a vegetarian diet was more about what I liked and didn’t like. I simply have never liked meat. Now I’m more educated on the subject of eating animals and believe it is wrong for a variety of reasons. I won’t get on a soapbox here, but you can check the PETA website if you want more information on the subject.
I do still eat eggs and dairy, and PETA has a thing or two to say about that as well. I try to make good choices when buying eggs and dairy – which doesn’t necessarily make it okay, but it’s what I can do right now. One day I’d like to have enough space to have my own chickens (and eggs) and maybe some goats. I truly appreciate and admire my friends and family who are already raising chickens and other animals of their own.
My point is that everyone who chooses a vegetarian or vegan diet does so for any of a multitude of reasons. Some make choices for their health and others to support their beliefs. And I’m sure a bazillion reasons in between. For others,giving up meat seems impossible – and for these folks, “fake meat” products can come in very handy as a “gateway” food. For me, since I never really liked meat to begin with, they’re more of a novelty, something “fun” to cook with once in a while. They also tend to be low in calories and high in protein (but also in sodium) and often provide a quick and easy way to throw together a meal.
So for the next three weeks I’m doing a “cool things to do with fake meat” series. This week: spicy sausage pizza with peppers and onions. Plenty of vibrant flavor from the sausage and veggies blended with mild, low-fat ricotta makes for a hearty, delicious, spicy pizza that can be enjoyed by vegetarians and meat eaters alike. So whatever your reasons for having fake meat in the fridge, this recipe and the rest of the series will help you see way beyond the basic veggie burger.
Spicy Sausage Pizza with Peppers and Onions
1 lb. refrigerated pizza dough
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic minced
¼ tsp cayenne
½ tsp crushed red pepper
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 8 oz package frozen vegetarian sausage patties
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
¾ cup low fat ricotta cheese
¼ cup shredded fontina cheese
salt and pepper
Cook the sausages according to package directions. Cool slightly and chop. In a large skillet heat 1tablespoon olive oil. Add the garlic and spices and cook until fragrant. About 1 minute. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked sausage and cook an additional minute. Season with Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 450˚. Brush a 14 inch pizza pan lightly with oil. Stretch or press the pizza dough to cover the pan forming a rounded crust around the edge. Spread the sausage, onion and pepper mixture across the dough. Crumble the ¾ cup low fat ricotta and sprinkle evenly across the pizza. Sprinkle fontina across the pizza. Drizzle the pizza with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake on the center rack for about 20 minutes or until crust is crisp and golden-brown.