If you’ve been tooling around the food blogs or Pinterest in the last few months, you’ve likely seen a photo or post about cauliflower pizza. I’ve had friends share links with me, but I had never been convinced that this was a good idea.
You see, I have been a lifelong hater of cauliflower…not just mild distaste, but a full on aversion – odd since I love all other brassica veggies – broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts…but cauliflower remained the one lonely veggie on my “will not eat list.” I’ve always thought that the smell of cooking cauliflower smelled like sweaty gym socks (I still kind of do). I’d tried mashed cauliflower, roasted, spiced it up with Indian curry, or slathered with chipotle puree, and still – meh.
It wasn’t until one of my colleagues, Natalie, whose taste I very much trust, came into work one morning and declared that I MUST try cauliflower crust pizza. I was still skeptical, then Natalie assured me that the taste of cheese and spices in the crust could overturn my previous thoughts about this bland veggie. Well, Natalie was right – and then some.
In researching the many recipes for cauliflower pizza, I wanted to minimize the effort, maybe to cut my losses if it didn’t work out – just to swear that I had given this thing a fair shot. As always, Lori Lange had just the shortcut I needed. Rather than steaming and ricing the cooked cauliflower, Lori recommends grating the raw ‘flower with a box grater (so easy!), and simply microwaving it for a few minutes. Genius. With this tip, I was on my way.
My first pizza was good – and to go from a head of cauliflower to pizza in under 30 minutes makes this a great option for weeknight meals, when taking the time for a traditional gluten-free dough to rise just isn’t in the cards…AND, you’re getting an extra serving of veggies, too!
On my second attempt, I had the tiniest little head of cauliflower in the crisper, and I needed something else to add a little bulk to the crust. I found a small, slightly shrively sweet potato hiding in a drawer (sweets shouldn’t be stored cold, as it will convert some of the sugars to starch and the taters will taste less sweet). I peeled the sweet potato and grated it along with the cauliflower, and the resulting crust held together a bit better with the starchier potato. This time, I also skipped the traditional pizza sauce, which kept the finished crust a bit firmer, but if you do add sauce, go a bit light on it.
This pizza is GOOD. Really good. It’s changed my perception of cauliflower, and to make pizza healthy, well…that’s something we should all be on board with.
What do you think – will you take the plunge and give cauliflower pizza crust a try? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Crust
Adapted from Lori Lange, Recipe Girl
2 cups raw, grated cauliflower
1 small sweet potato, washed, peeled and grated
1 T fresh basil, minced (optional), or 1 T dried italian herb blend
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
⅓ cup finely grated fontina cheese
⅓ cup chopped ham
2 oz soft, marinated feta (Yarra is my favorite), or soft goat cheese
drizzle of olive oil
½ T fresh basil, minced
Note: this is pizza, so use whatever toppings you like. If you use a tomato sauce, go a bit lighter on the sauce, as the extra moisture will take away from the crispness of the crust.
Special equipment: pizza stone, box grater, parchment paper, rolling pin
- Place your pizza stone in the oven (if you don’t have one, place your baking sheet in the oven), and preheat to 450 degrees.
- Grate the cauliflower and sweet potato with a box grater and place in a mixing bowl.
- Put the bowl in the microwave and cook for 6-8 minutes until the veggies are tender. Take the bowl of cooked veggies out of the micro and set aside to cool.
- Grate the fontina cheese, and mince the basil. Beat the egg in a small bowl with a fork.
- Add the cheese, basil, salt, pepper, cheese and egg to the cauliflower and sweet potato bowl. Gently stir together with a rubber spatula.
- Cut two pieces of parchment large enough to hold the pizza, and spray one side of each piece with olive oil. Set one piece of parchment on the counter, oiled side up, and scoop the crust mixture onto the middle of the parchment, using your hands to pat the mixture into a circular shape about 6 inches across.
- Cover with the other sheet of parchment, oiled side down. Use a rolling pin to gently roll out the dough into a large circle, until the finished crust is about ¼” thick. Peel the top layer of parchment off.
- Open the oven, pull out the rack with the pizza stone, and carefully transfer the crust to the stone on the parchment…I find it’s easiest to do this with a buddy, and each person grabs two corners of the parchment to move the pizza onto the stone. A pizza peel will also do the job well (I don’t have one).
- Bake the crust for 15 minutes, until golden, and the edges look fairly crispy. Remove the pizza from the oven, and crumble the feta or goat cheese over the crust. Drizzle about 1T of the oil from the marinated feta (or just 1 T plain olive oil) over the crust. Sprinkle the ham over the pizza. Return the pizza to the oven for 3 minutes to melt the cheese and heat the toppings.
- Remove the pizza, slice and serve. Enjoy!