Have you ever eaten a restaurant meal that blew your mind to the point where you had to figure out how to recreate it at home? I’m fortunate enough to experience this pretty often – Chicago is an incredible place to live if you like to eat. I’m really excited about what chefs are doing with plant-based foods in this city. For example, our recipe for Buffalo Crispy Tender Tacos with Vegan Ranch was inspired by my go-to order at Handlebar in Wicker Park.
I wish I could say this pizza has as cute of a story, but here’s the truth: long before I was vegan or vegetarian, I had a Thai chicken pizza at California Pizza Kitchen (yes, the restaurant chain) and I haven’t been the same since.
To put this in perspective, I haven’t had this pizza in its original form in more than eight years. I have, however, been making a plant-based version of it to satiate my cravings for almost as long. The reason I love this pizza so much is because it combines my two absolute favorite cuisines into one mouthwatering pie. I’ve always been a huge pizza lover, and I got heavily into Thai food in college. It might sound strange to marry the two, but the flavor combination is out of this world.
I typically make this pizza with fried tofu drenched in peanut sauce, but I went with roasted chickpeas here to offer a soy-free option that’s still packed with plant protein. You can make your own pizza crust or look for a vegan brand in stores. We like Trader Joe’s pizza dough (in the produce section) and Rustic Crust, which I found at my local Fresh Thyme (that would be Sprouts for anyone on the west coast). Top it off with creamy peanut sauce and fresh chopped veggies for a tasty weeknight night dinner or party hors d’oeuvre.
This Vegan Thai Chickpea Pizza combines my two favorite cuisines for a flavor-packed weeknight dinner. Tender roasted chickpeas, creamy peanut sauce, and fresh chopped veggies offer a unique twist on traditional pizza.
- 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- 1 prepared pizza crust
- 1 cup peanut sauce (recipe follows)
- ½ medium carrot, shredded
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup bean sprouts, roughly chopped
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
For the peanut sauce:
- ½ cup peanut butter
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- ½ lime, juiced
- 1 tsp. chili garlic or Sriracha sauce (optional)
- Water, to thin (I used 5 Tbsp.)
- Preheat oven to 450F. Blot the chickpeas dry by rolling them between a few paper towels. Spill the chickpeas onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and toss to coat. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until chickpeas are just golden, shaking the pan half way through. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Adjust the oven temperature according to your pizza crust instructions. To make the peanut sauce, combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds to soften it up, and then stir the ingredients to combine. Whisk in the lime juice and the chili garlic sauce, if using. Add water to thin the sauce as needed. It should be thick, but easy to stir.
- Scoop two tablespoons of peanut sauce into the bowl of roasted chickpeas and stir to coat. Spread the remaining peanut sauce on the pizza crust in an even layer (you may not use all of it depending on how big your crust is). Sprinkle the chickpeas, carrot, and green onion on top of the crust and bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or for the time indicated by your pizza crust instructions.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board to cool. Garnish with bean sprouts, cilantro, lime wedges, and chili garlic sauce, if desired. Cut and serve immediately.