There have always been picky eaters. Cavemen families had trouble getting their little shaggy-haired fur-clad Ugg to eat his mammoth steak. Cleopatra had to wrestle with her son, Cesarian just to get him to finish his figs. Marie Antionette and Louis XVI found their daughter Marie-Thérèse conveniently preferred cake over broccoli.
Nothing has changed. Children are still notoriously picky eaters. Thankfully I am blessed with a step daughter that loves vegetables especially broccoli. Myself, I have had a colourful past with vegetables. I tried all the old standby tricks: sneaking them into my napkin, covering them with my mashed potatoes, hiding them in my mouth and flushing them later, even tucking them in the leaf of the kitchen table and forgetting about them.
I was approached by Hidden Valley to participate in a challenge with fourteen other Canadian food bloggers. The fifteen of us are tasked with creating a recipe with ranch dressing that makes eating vegetables fun for the whole family.
When I think of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing I think of good old fashioned veggie dipping. Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, celery, broccoli, red and green peppers and more, something I missed out on as a kid. But when it comes to picky eaters sometimes you have to hide the vegetables and dipping them isn’t quite clever enough. I’ve become a huge fan of using ranch dressing on pizza instead of marinara sauce and I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to show you just how versatile this product can be!
So I took all my favourite dipping veggies and put them on a pizza instead. As a kid I always turned my nose up at vegetarian pizza, but I can attest that this Hidden Valley Cheese Ranch really brings out the best in vegetables. And, young or old, who can say no to pizza?
Vegetarian Ranch Pizza
Makes 1 medium pizza.
Source: Crust adapted from Annie’s Eats’ Basic Pizza Dough.
1/4 cup water, warm
1 1/8 tsp instant yeast
2 cup bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water, room temperature
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cornmeal
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Hidden Valley Cheese Ranch Dressing
5 cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
1/2 green pepper, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 cup cucumber, sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
3 cup mozzarella cheese
Note: Serve the pizza with a little of the Hidden Valley Cheese Ranch Dressing on the side for a little added flavour!
In a medium measuring bowl sprinkle the instant yeast over the warm water.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment stir together the bread flour and salt. Add the room temperature water and olive oil to the yeast bowl and gradually pour it into the flour mixture while it’s mixing on low.
Once it’s mixed into a cohesive dough switch to the hook attachment and knead the dough on low for about 5 minutes or until it’s smooth and elastic.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning it once to ensure all the dough is oiled. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit undisturbed to rise until it’s doubled in size for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
Preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees and position a rack in the middle.
Press down the doubled dough to deflate it then transfer it to a floured work surface. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 10 – 30 minutes.
Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit your pizza stone then sprinkle it lightly with cornmeal. Cornmeal is the secret to crispy pizza crust. Spread the word! Lightly flour your hands and shape the dough gently using the backs of your hands to stretch and form it without tearing it with your fingertips. If the dough springs back too much when you’re trying to shape it then let it rest for another 15 minutes and try again. This should relax the gluten and make it easier to work with. Your goal here is to form the dough into a circle 10 – 12 inches wide with a slightly thicker 1/2 inch rim for the crust.
With a pastry brush lightly brush the crust with olive oil. Liberally spread an even layer of the Hidden Valley Cheese Ranch Dressing followed by half the mozzarella cheese. Distribute the vegetables evenly over the cheese layer then top it with the rest of the mozzarella cheese.
Slide the parchment paper onto a cutting board then onto the preheated pizza stone and bake it for 8 – 12 minutes. The cheese should be bubbly and the crust should be golden brown. Slice and enjoy!