Crisp cool mornings with the distinct smell of autumn is starting to fill the air, the kids are back to school, hot beverages are welcomed by chilled hands and this means, at least in our household, that hot, cozy comfort foods are back in season!!
There are so many fun activities to enjoy with family and friends this time of year. Apple picking at a local orchard, corn mazes, fairs, cheese tours and so much more. I also find a little more time to grab a latte and catch up with friends. While catching up with my friend Heather, she asked me if I could make her a pizza using a cauliflower crust, of course I happily accepted her culinary challenge. However, this recipe creation turned out to be a little bit more challenging than I had originally thought.
My research started first on the internet, I remembered seeing some sort of cauliflower pizza on social media before. Of course when checking recipes online, I always read the ingredients first, then it’s a quick scroll to read the reviews. The first little road block I ran into was that most of the cauliflower pizza crust recipes were bound with cheese, either goat cheese or mozzarella. My sweet friend must eat dairy free too. Then I started researching dairy free cauliflower pizza, and the reviews, I must say were disappointing. There were many variations, some recipes called for almond flour or chia eggs (boiling water added to chia seeds) to be added. Most of the reviews would say things like, “This is a delicious meal, but you must not think of it as a pizza,” or “The crust falls apart, but it tastes good.” One more change needed to be made for this recipe to be successful in my house, the recipe needed to yield more than one small personal pizza. Guided with inspiration and a general idea of what I wanted my cauliflower pizza crust to look like, smell like, and taste like, I grabbed my husband and headed to the grocery store.
My ShopRite has an extensive fresh produce section, and I love that they feature produce from local farms. With October just around the corner I picked purple heads of cauliflower to experiment with, also with the idea of what a “cool Aunt” I could be when Halloween dinner rolled around. I also picked up organic garlic, a few shallots, organic cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, Simply Organic dried oregano, local maple syrup, Bob’s Red Mill tapioca flour, and golden flaxseed meal. A quick side note about gluten free grocery shopping: it seems that we are all incredibly busy these days. To save time and money it is very important to have a one stop grocery shopping experience, and that means that the grocery store we choose to shop in, must also have a large comprehensive gluten free section. Our ShopRite has an incredible gluten free selection, and plenty of other truly gluten free products throughout most of the store.
It was time to start recipe creating, purple cauliflower in hand. My first few attempts were a bit rough. First you must turn your cauliflower heads into cauliflower “rice.” This is simple if you have a food processor. The process requires cutting the cauliflower off the main stem and placing it in the food processor. One then, pulses the cauliflower until it is between the size of sand and small grains of rice. You then cook the cauliflower. Most of the recipes either steamed, boiled, or microwaved the cauliflower to cook it first. This resulted in a saturated cauliflower “rice” that even after being drained held too much moisture. This was part of why my first crust indeed wanted to break apart after it was cooked, and the texture was crumbly. Next I tried straining the excess liquid from the cauliflower right after I riced it, then I cooked the cauliflower by steaming and made the dough. The second pizza fell apart, as did my first two cauliflower pizza recipe writing attempts. Now, I was starting to feel the pressure.
Thankfully, attempt number three paid off with an innovative, flavor enhancing way to cook the cauliflower and a tasty pizza dinner. I found that draining the excess liquid from the raw cauliflower rice then roasting the cauliflower for one hour at 375 degrees added layers of flavor and dehydrated the cauliflower to just the right consistency. To fix the crust’s texture I added eggs, tapioca flour and golden flaxseed meal. I also cooked the crust on a oiled piece of parchment paper on a hot pizza stone. The result was a crust that is full of flavor with crispy edges, and that when you slice with a knife has a good crunch. This crust has a chewy crunchy texture and the best part is that you can pick a slice up and eat it with your hands.
If you are looking for a delicious cauliflower pizza crust, that stays together, has crispy edges, is dairy free and you are willing to put in the effort, you should give this recipe a try.
CRISPY ROASTED CAULIFLOWER PIZZA
2015 copyright Amy Rota-Poulin
2 large heads of cauliflower
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and ends removed
1 shallot, peeled
2 teaspoons of organic dried oregano
1 cup of fresh basil (or 2 teaspoons dried organic basil)
1 teaspoon of Himalayan sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 large eggs
¼ cup tapioca flour
¼ golden flaxseed meal
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Start by cutting the the cauliflower off the main stem and placing it in the food processor. Add the garlic, shallots, oregano, basil and himalayan sea salt. You may have to “rice” the cauliflower in two batches due to the size of your food processor.
Pulse the cauliflower until it is between the size of sand and small grains of rice (most food processors have a pulse button, if you are using a blender simply turn the appliance on and off quickly).
Once your cauliflower is riced, in batches place the cauliflower in cheese cloth and ring out as much water as you can. Add the drained cauliflower to a sheet pan or large roasting pan. Lightly drizzle the olive oil and pure maple syrup over the top and mix to evenly coat the riced cauliflower.
Using clean hands, use your fingers to make a light and fluffy even layer of cauliflower. Place in the oven and roast at 375 degrees for one hour. Be sure to stir the cauliflower every 20 minutes. The cauliflower should have roasted edges. Remove the roasted cauliflower rice from the oven and let cool. Meanwhile turn the oven up to 400 degrees and place a sheet pan or a pizza stone in the oven to heat.
In a large bowl mix the roasted cauliflower, eggs, tapioca flour and flaxseed meal together until a dough ball forms and the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to cover the pizza stone or the sheet pan. Place the parchment paper on a clean counter and lightly oil the topside with olive oil. Place the pizza dough ball on the oiled parchment paper. Using clean, wet hands gently press the dough into a ¼ inch think, 10-12 inch crust. If the pizza dough starts to stick to your hands while you are pressing it out, simply rinse and re-wet your hands.
Using potholders, carefully remove the hot pizza stone or sheet pan from the oven and place on a heat proof surface. Carefully place the parchment paper with the pressed out crust, crust side up on the hot pizza stone or sheet pan, touch the parchment paper only, and do not touch the hot pizza stone or hot sheet pan.
Place in oven and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is just starting to get crispy and the edges a light golden brown. Remove from oven. Top with your favorite marinara sauce and your favorite toppings. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until your toppings are cooked to your liking. Slice and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
*Quick Tip: When you try this recipe, please keep in mind that all cauliflower heads you buy at the store are different weights, the amount of moisture that is removed when straining the raw cauliflower rice and roasting the cauliflower will vary.*
I made this pizza last night for my friend Heather, and it was a success! She loved it! Heather’s cauliflower pizza crust, I topped with a raw marinara sauce, caramelized onions, and sliced yellow cherry tomatoes. It was then popped back into the oven for about 10 minutes to set the sauce and cook the tomatoes. This cauliflower pizza was everything she wanted. Her husband, Brian, was thrilled that he could even fold the slice and eat the cauliflower pizza confidently like a true New Yorker.
This was true culinary challenge met with inspiration and persistence. The reward is a new delicious, healthy recipe to share and one very happy friend.
Warmest Regards & Happy Cooking,
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