Spanish-inspired vegetarian pizza recipe with a medley of vegetables, briny olives, and creamy ricotta, salty parmesan, pickled red onions, and fresh arugula. Romesco sauce replaces the tomato sauce, which adds a layer of nutty, smoky, rich flavor.

An overhead photo of a vegetarian pizza cut into slices on a wooden serving platter next to bowls of arugula and pickled onions.
Photo Credits: Mark Beahm

There’s a place in our new neighborhood in Barcelona that I walk to for lunch, where I eat on the terrace in the middle of a pedestrian street. They bake sourdough pizzas in this beautiful brick oven, but what really caught my eye was a pizza smothered in Romesco Sauce instead of tomato sauce. It gave me a spark of inspiration to revamp my homemade pizzas, especially after perfecting my homemade whole wheat pizza crust!

More than any other sauce, I love Romesco, a flavorful Spanish sauce made with roasted red peppers, smoky paprika, and toasted hazelnuts.

It’s a staple of the calçotada, a messy winter meal of native green onions grilled directly in the fire and served with Romesco for dipping. While I’m normally shy, at my first calçotada, I chased after the server who, thinking I had finished, cleared away my bowl before I had the chance to finish the bright red sauce with a spoon!

On top of the dreamy Romesco, I add a colorful array of vegetables, dollops of creamy ricotta cheese, and shavings of parmesan. It's not just eye-catching; a variety of colors also means a variety of flavors with zucchini, meaty mushrooms, briny olives, tangy artichokes, peppery arugula, and sharp pickled red onions. I'm having a hard time convincing myself to walk to our neighborhood spot!

Table of Contents
  1. What You Need for Veggie Pizza
  2. How to Make Veggie Pizza
    1. Stretch the Dough
    2. Build the Pizza, Bake, and Serve
  3. Tips for Making Veggie Pizza
  4. Ways to Mix it Up
  5. What to Serve with Vegetarian Pizza
  6. More Vegetarian Pizza Recipes 
  7. Veggie Pizza with Romesco, Mushrooms, and Artichoke Hearts Recipe
  8. Mediterranean Diet Starter Kit
Ingredients for vegetarian pizza including whole wheat pizza dough, olive oil, romesco cause, zucchini, mushrooms, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, ricotta cheese, pickled red onions, arugula, and parmesan cheese.

What You Need for Veggie Pizza

I like adding colorful vegetables to balance savory, rich, tangy, and bright flavors. Here’s what you need for this veggie pizza:

  • Whole wheat pizza dough: This 100% whole-wheat pizza dough is fast, easy, and flavorful. You can make it the same day or a day ahead, keeping it in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours before you’re ready to assemble the pizza. You can also swap in store-bought, or homemade Neapolitan Pizza Dough.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: A light drizzle dresses the arugula and adds some fruity richness to the pizza. Use a high-quality extra virgin variety–our peppery Spanish Hojiblanca would be a great choice.
  • Romesco sauce: This ultra-flavorful sauce from Spain is made with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and hazelnuts. It’s typically used on grilled meats, fish, and vegetables, but it’s my new favorite on pizza.
  • Zucchini: This lightly herbaceous summer squash turns tender and even a little sweet after roasting.
  • Mushrooms add savory “meatiness” to the pizza. I used cremini, but you can use shiitake, button, portobello, or baby bella.
  • Kalamata olives are rich, smoky, and fruity.
  • Artichoke hearts: For their tangy, earthy flavor, I use jarred artichoke hearts and slice them in half.
  • Ricotta cheese is nicely creamy and light. I love the dollops of rich ricotta in pockets among all the vegetables.
  • Pickled red onions add a bright pop of pink and a wonderfully tangy flavor enhanced by red wine vinegar and sumac.
  • Fresh arugula, a Mediterranean native, adds a beautiful green, peppery flavor.
  • Parmesan cheese: I like to add a finishing touch of large shavings of nutty and salty parmesan cheese that nestle into the fresh arugula.
A close up of a slice of vegetarian pizza on a plate.

How to Make Veggie Pizza

If I’m making vegetarian pizzas for a group, I like to prep the ingredients in bowls and let everyone assemble their own—and you'll also want to prep the pickles and sauce ahead of time. You can use 3 different kitchen items to bake the pizza: a pizza peel + pizza stone, baking sheet, or large cast iron skillet.

Stretch the Dough

  • Get ready: Preheat your oven to 500°F. If you’re using a pizza peel, place a pizza stone on a rack in the oven to preheat.
  • Prevent sticking. If you’re using a pizza peel, line it with parchment paper and lightly dust with flour. If using a baking sheet or large cast iron skillet, coat with a thin layer of olive oil. 
  • Stretch the dough. Set the dough on your chosen surface and stretch into a circle about 12 to 14 inches in diameter. (Alternatively, divide the dough in half for two smaller pizzas.) With the palms of your hands, press the dough outward from the center into a rough circle. You can pull and stretch the dough from the edges to spread the dough further. To form the crust, leave the edges of the dough slightly thicker than the middle. Unbaked pizza dough spread on a parchment lined wooden serving tray.

Build the Pizza, Bake, and Serve

  • Add the base: Lightly brush the dough with olive oil, then spread the Romesco Sauce over the dough with the back of a spoon leaving a 1-inch border at the edges. An overhead photo of an unbaked whole wheat pizza crust layered with romesco sauce on a parchment-lined wooden serving tray. Surrounding this are bowls of artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, mushrooms, zucchini and ricotta cheese.
  • Add the toppings: Evenly distribute the zucchini, mushroom, Kalamata olives, and artichoke hearts over the sauce. Spoon on small dollops of ricotta cheese.An overhead photo of an unbaked vegetarian pizza on a parchment-lined wooden serving tray. Surrounding this are bowls of artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, mushrooms, zucchini and ricotta cheese.
  • Turn your oven to 450°F and bake: If you're using a pizza peel, carefully shimmy it and slide the pizza off onto the baking stone. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are cooked. For a cast iron or baking sheet, set in your oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.A baked vegetarian pizza on a parchment lined wooden serving tray.
  • Finish the pizza: Transfer the pizza to a cutting board or a large serving plate. Sprinkle the top with pickled red onions and add arugula. Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and finish with freshly shaved parmesan cheese.An overhead photo of a vegetarian pizza on a wooden serving platter next to bowls of arugula, pickled onions and parmesan cheese, and a bottle of olive oil.
  • Serve: Slice the vegetarian pizza and serve immediately.An overhead photo of a sliced vegetarian pizza on a wooden serving platter next to bowls of arugula and pickled onions.

Tips for Making Veggie Pizza

This is a fun, easy recipe, and you can make it ahead of time or swap with store bought dough to save time. Here are tips for getting ahead and more: 

  • Getting ahead: Make the pickled onions, romesco sauce, and dough the night before and keep it in the fridge. Remove the dough from your fridge 2 to 3 hours before assembling, which gives it enough time to warm, reactivating the yeast so the crust puffs nicely in the oven. 
  • The dough recipe can be doubled for a large crowd. 
  • Substitute with your favorite store-bought pizza dough.
  • Do yourself a favor and make the full batch of romesco sauce. It keeps for 5 to 7 days, and you can slather it on everything. 
  • Same with the pickled red onions—they can be added to salads, sandwiches, or as a condiment to your favorite meals.
A close up of a sliced vegetarian pizza on a wooden serving platter next to bowls of arugula and pickled onions, and a glass of water.

Ways to Mix it Up

I love this combination of vegetables with the romesco sauce, but don't let that stop you from making your own veggie pizza. I like to swap the vegetables to use up the odds and ends I have in my crisper drawer. Here are some easy substitution ideas:

  • Sauce: Instead of romesco sauce, make a more classic vegetarian pizza with tomato sauce or Basil Pesto.
  • Veggie swaps: Add to or substitute the veggies on this pizza with pan-fried eggplant, yellow summer squash, asparagus, fresh or sun-dried tomatoes, capers, or bell peppers.
    • Note: I prefer not to overload the dough with toppings. You can pile on the vegetables for the ultimate veggie pizza, just keep in mind the pizza will take longer to bake and won’t bake as evenly.
  • Cheese: In place of the ricotta, slice or tear a ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, add slices or grate smoked scamorza, or break open a ball of burrata cheese after baking.
An overhead photo of a vegetarian pizza on a wooden serving platter next to bowls of arugula, pickled onions, and parmesan cheese.

What to Serve with Vegetarian Pizza

For a vegetarian pizza night, I like to start with a refreshing appetizer, something fun to drink, and a fruity dessert.

Caprese salad is a classic appetizer before pizza. Or instead of salad, serve an easy cold soup that pairs with the Spanish flavors in the Romesco Sauce, like Gazpacho

To drink, share a pitcher of sangria. You can’t go wrong with either a classic Red Sangria or a refreshing White Sangria. End the meal with a light dessert of Grilled Watermelon.

More Vegetarian Pizza Recipes 

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Veggie Pizza with Romesco, Mushrooms, and Artichoke Hearts

photo of author mark beahm.Mark Beahm
An overhead photo of a sliced vegetarian pizza on a wooden serving platter next to bowls of arugula and pickled onions.
You can make this pizza restaurant-style with a pizza peel + pizza stone, or use a large cast iron skillet or baking sheet. For a make-your-own pizza party, the dough can be cut in half and used to make two smaller pizzas.
Prep – 20 minutes
Cook – 18 minutes
Total – 38 minutes
Cuisine:
Spanish
Serves – 4
Course:
Entree

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Get ready: Preheat your oven to 500°F. If you’re using a pizza peel, place a pizza stone on a rack in the oven to preheat.
  • Prevent sticking. If you’re using a pizza peel, line it with parchment paper and lightly dust with flour. Or coat a baking sheet or large cast iron skillet with a thin layer of olive oil.
  • Stretch the dough. Set the dough on your chosen surface and stretch into a circle about 12 to 14 inches in diameter. (Alternatively, divide the dough in half for two smaller pizzas.) With the palms of your hands, press the dough outward from the center into a rough circle. You can pull and stretch the dough from the edges to spread the dough further. To form the crust, leave the edges of the dough slightly thicker than the middle.
  • Add the toppings: Lightly brush the dough with olive oil, then spread the romesco sauce over the dough with the back of a spoon leaving a 1-inch border at the edges. Evenly distribute the zucchini, mushroom, Kalamata olives, and artichoke hearts over the sauce. Spoon on small dollops of ricotta cheese.
  • Turn your oven to 450°F and bake: If you’re using a pizza peel, carefully shimmy it and slide the pizza off onto the baking stone. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are cooked. For a cast iron or baking sheet, set in your oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Finish the pizza: Transfer the pizza to a cutting board or a large serving plate. Sprinkle the top with pickled red onions and add arugula. Lightly drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and finish with freshly shaved parmesan cheese.
  • Serve: Slice and serve immediately.

Notes

  • Shop this recipe: Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including the olive oil used in this recipe.
  • Nutritional calculation does not include the pizza dough or Romesco sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 160.6kcalCarbohydrates: 7.4gProtein: 8.7gFat: 10.8gSaturated Fat: 5.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.5gMonounsaturated Fat: 4.2gCholesterol: 31.6mgSodium: 565.8mgPotassium: 220.8mgFiber: 2.3gSugar: 2.1gVitamin A: 729.4IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 166.3mgIron: 0.7mg
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Mark learned to bake professionally at Two Fat Cats Bakery in Portland, Maine and was most recently the head baker at Hjem Kensington, a Danish café in London. He lived in Barcelona and Madrid for six years, before moving to London and then back to the States. He is fascinated by the intersection of food, culture, and science. He has been developing recipes for home bakers for three years and began writing for The Mediterranean Dish in 2022.

When he’s not in the kitchen, he spends his time traveling, knitting, and learning to throw pottery.
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