After my experimentation and success with cauliflower tortillas this past spring, all those versions of cauliflower pizza crusts kept dancing in my head. How would it taste? Does it fall apart when you try to pick it up? Can it really take the place of doughy, yeasty, bendy traditional pizza crust?
I had to find out. At best, it could be a pretty decent low carb substitution. At worse, a vehicle to pack more veggies and fiber into my diet.
So I went to work on experimenting with cauliflower pizza crust recipes. I tried several variations on the tortilla recipe trying to modify it to work as a crust to no success. Then I tried several of the paleo crusts that I had pinned but a lot of them used quite a bit of starch flour which is not good for someone watching their sugar intake.
Then I tried some that were merely billed as low carb and included varying amounts of cheese and found I preferred the cheese versions. After testing and modifying and testing again, I've landed on a crust that I really enjoy. It's sturdy enough to hold a slice in your hand (I've even loaded this crust up with chicken and veggies and it was still sturdy enough to pick up). In addition to the italian flavors typical of the crust recipes I came across during my research, I included sage and turmeric. Sage is a warm, slightly peppery, slightly rosemary tasting herb that loves fat, so it pairs really well with cheese and since there is a fair amount of cheese in the crust, it just made sense to add it. Also, besides adding a bit of color to the "dough", the turmeric echoed the slightly earthy, peppery notes of the sage plus turmeric pairs well with cauliflower. It's also kind of a "super" herb known for it's anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties. So, win-win.
Also, wanting to tone down the forward taste and slightly pungent smell of cooked cauliflower, as well as help make the crust more "bread-like", I added cashew meal. I made my first version without it but I really prefer the mouthfeel of the cashew version.
My favorite way to use this crust is for a Pizza Margherita. Traditionally, this kind of pizza, the colors of the Italian flag, is basil, mozzarella and tomato sauce. However, cauliflower pizza crusts and lots of sauce do not mix well as the sauce will seep into the crusts, making the crust susceptible to breaking and crumbling. So I used a very light hand with the tomato sauce and opted instead on thin slices of vine ripened tomatoes, cheese and fresh basil. Just before serving, drizzle a good quality olive oil over the pizza to finish.
Until next time, friends. xo, ani
Pizza Margherita with Cauliflower Crust
Most cauliflower crust recipes I researched have you toss out the core and use only the florets. Since a lot of the nutrients are in the core, I keep most of it, trimming away and tossing only the ends that are closest to the leaves.
Makes (1) 10-inch round pizza
For the sauce:
⅓ cup tomato sauce
1 heaping teaspoon tomato paste
1small garlic clove, run through a garlic press or finely minced
¼ teaspoon onion powder
pinch kosher salt, or to taste
pinch ground black pepper, or to taste
1 medium to large cauliflower, trimmed and cut into chunks
½ cup finely shredded mozzarella
⅓ cup finely grated Parmesan
⅓ cup cashew meal (homemade or Trader Joe's, which is what I used)
1 organic free range extra large egg
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon ground sage
¼ teaspoon turmeric (for color and it's good for diabetics)
1 large garlic clove, run through a garlic press or finely minced
olive oil cooking spray
For the toppings:
For the toppings:
⅓ to ½ cup shredded mozzarella ( I prefer the ½ cup, personally because, cheese!)
1 medium organic vine ripened tomato, thinly sliced
sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
8-10 basil leaves, hand torn
extra virgin olive oil, to taste
DirectionsPreheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Make the sauce: Stir together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.
Make the crust: Pulse cauliflower in food processor with the s-blade until finely ground. Remove cauliflower to a microwave-safe bowl; microwave for 3 minutes, stir and cook an additional 2 minutes. Spread out onto a rimmed baking sheet for 5 minutes to cool down enough to handle. Pile cauliflower into the center of a tea towel or doubled-up cheesecloth; twist tightly and squeeze to remove as much water as possible. The drier the cauliflower is, the better your crust will be. So when you think you've gotten out all the water, massage the ball, then squeeze some more. You should get about 1 cup of water from a head of cooked cauliflower. Place squeezed cauliflower into a bowl; add the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand until thoroughly combined then knead until it holds the shape of a smooth ball of "dough".
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray the paper with olive oil spray. Place the dough in the center and flatten into a 10-inch round circle, coaxing the edges smooth and slightly higher to form a lip for the "crust". Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges start to get golden brown. Remove from oven.
To assemble: Spread the tomato slices on a cutting board and season with salt an pepper; set aside. Evenly spread the tomato sauce onto the crust, leaving the raised lip sauce-free. Sprinkle the cheese over the sauce. Distribute the tomato slices around the pizza. Place pie under a broiler for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melting and toppings are just turning golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 to 8 minutes before slicing.