Traditions can mean many things when it comes to food. Those traditions don’t necessarily have to be conventional. Not a lot in my family was!
As a kid, most people in our family knew my mom, aka Momma Mac, to be an amazing baker. What many don’t know is that she taught me how to cook pasta, which she learned from her travels in Europe…and then later marrying my Italian father. At the same time, she was a busy lady, not really having time to make her own pasta sauce except on a rare Sunday. She would often pick up a jar of Ragú®, do some kitchen magic by adding her own blend of spices and serve up a plate of popping flavor. Little did she know that her “tradition” would be passed down to me.
Mom often played around with jarred sauces by adding various ingredients and trying different cooking styles. I think she felt like a star chef on a shoestring budget. And when she would cook dinner, it was often good and weird. Pizza grilled cheese? Uhh yeah! Her creativity made up for her working late nights and being too tired to cook. Now that I’m vegan, I’ve found my cooking game has been improved by being able to be as creative as my mom and enjoying my time in the kitchen.
While there are many pasta sauces on the market, you have to be careful as many are not vegan, often having cheese/milk or even chicken broth (say WHAT?!?!). However, being vegan doesn’t mean you have go for the expensive sauces either. Ragú® Old World Style® Marinara* is an affordable vegan option, which is often around $3.00 for a 24oz jar. It makes for a good base for a variety of dishes from lasagne to pizza pillows. You can go basic or add your favorite ingredients to kick things up a notch.
The marinara has a lot of real tomato flavor! Ragú® believes in using no artificial flavors, colors or high-fructose corn syrup. The sauce is made in a slow-cooking, simmering style to really appreciate that red fruit! While we find the sauce a bit thin for our liking, we use it as a base to which you can your favorite veggies, spices and even vegan cheese! You know how we roll in doing kitchen whip-ups, which are becoming our “tradition.” So, of course, we did one with this sauce!
I was having pizza cravings, but didn’t want an actual slice or pie. Thanks to Ragú® for providing us with the sauce, I was inspired by my mom’s cooking style, her love of cast-iron and favorite pizza spice blend. Hence, the Vegan Cast-Iron Pepperoni Pizza Dip was born!
The marinara sauce set the platform for a creamy, “cheesy” dip mixed with vegan cream cheese and vegan mozzarella shreds. Whisked together with vegan pepperoni, later topped with more cheese and then broiled, you have no idea excited we were to eat this right out of the pan!! It was pizza…and really good pizza…where you could taste all of the ingredients, especially the tomatoes in the sauce.
To serve this dip, Carlo sliced an Italian bread loaf and made some easy-peasy pan-fried bread!
Want to give this a try at your next party or raging pizza craving? Here’s the recipe!
- 1 24oz jar of Ragú® Old World Style Marinara Saue
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 4.2oz pkg. vegan pepperoni slices
- 1/2 c. vegan cream cheese
- 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
- 1 1/2 c. vegan mozzarella shreds
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
- Fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Torn fresh basil for garnish)
- 1 loaf of Italian bread, cut into 12 slices
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- Dash of sea salt to taste (optional)
- Heat cast-iron pan with olive oil. When hot, add half of the pepperoni slices and cook for 2 minutes on each side
- Pour in marinara and bring to a boil. Then, stir in cream cheese and 1c. of vegan mozzarella shreds until melted into the sauce
- Lower heat to a simmer and stir in nutritional yeast and spices (except black pepper). Simmer for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally as sauce thickens
- Set oven to broil on high
- Remove pan from heat. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella shreds and layer the remaining pepperoni slices
- Place pan in oven for 5-7 minutes until the cheese gets slightly brown
- Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle fresh cracked pepper and torn basil on top before serving
- Mix garlic powder and olive oil into a small bowl
- Heat a large skillet with the oil. When hot, arrange bread slices cut-side down
- Cook for 4 minutes. Turn over. Cook for another 4 minutes.
- Sprinkle with sea salt before serving (optional)
- You can serve this dish right in the pan on a trivet
- Yummy ways to enjoy: Scoop with pan-fried bread, spoon into a bowl with fresh veggies or spoon on top of your favorite pasta
- Psst. This taste good cold too next day!!
Note: Not all of the Ragú® Old World Style varieties are vegan. Check the label before you buy!!