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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Best Ever Cauliflower Crust Pizza!





I love pizza.  The end.  Ok, there's more.  I could eat pizza every single day and not get tired of it.  Really!  (I tried it once in my twenties).  I also love cute clothes, which is why I don't eat pizza every day.  Boo.  Then cauliflower pizza crust entered my life, and all is well again, because you actually could eat it every day.  Here comes the confession.  It will never be exactly like the pizza you're used to, be it NYC's thin crust or Chicago's deep dish style.  Until now.

 After trying out countless recipes that all use only cauliflower as the "grain," mixed with up to 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella, I decided to give in and meet in the middle.  For my husband's sake.  He never complained about the original cauliflower crust pizza, but never was too excited about it either.  After trial and error, and a few nights where I actually ruined dinner,  I finally combined the cauliflower with gluten free flour.  The result was healthy pizza perfection!  The texture was MUCH closer to regular pizza (score for the kiddos!)  And even though this crust contained 1 cup of the sneaky veggie, making the whole dish lighter and full of nutrients, I couldn't even taste the cauliflower.  Plus, I reduced the cheese to only 1/2 cup, compared to 2 cups that I had seen in some recipes.  Pizza night is back. 

 I like the nutrition bonus you get from the flaxseed, and I think it gives it an even heartier texture. However, you may want to omit it the first time you try this recipe, just to get used to it.   Also, I'm the biggest cheese lover on the planet, but I try to avoid it for health reasons now.  So for that reason, I have included a vegan version that replaces the egg and cheese in the crust with more flaxseeds.  I usually make a cheese pizza for the kids and a vegan one for my husband and me.  My vegan version is so tangy and delicious thanks to artichokes, swiss chard, and lemon, that even I don't miss the cheese!

Ingredients~
(CRUST)
1 cup of "riced" cauliflower (instructions below)
1 cup Gluten Free Flour (I use Bob's Red Mill, All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Pinch of pepper
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp olive oil

*Optional: 1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds

For the "riced" Cauliflower:
1.  Gently cut apart a head of cauliflower into small chunks.  (Don't make them too small or you will just have a mess.)  Place the chunks into the bowl of a food processor, and process until ground into rice size pieces.  I like to work in batches, repeating 3 times until the entire head of cauliflower is riced.

2.  Scoop about 1/3 of the riced cauliflower in a glass bowl and place in the microwave.  There is no need to cover or add water.  Cook on high for 8 minutes.  This draws the moisture out of the vegetable and softens it. 
Repeat until all of the cauliflower is cooked. 

3.  Portion out 1 cup for a regular size pizza, or if you are doubling the recipe to make 2 pizzas, use 2 cups.  Let the remaining cauliflower cool, and transfer to large Ziplocs to freeze.  Next time you are making pizza, simply scoop out 1 cup of the cauliflower from the freezer bag.

PIZZA CRUST DIRECTIONS:

1.  Mince the garlic and set aside.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

2.  In a large bowl, combine the riced cauliflower with the gluten free flour.  Add the rest of the ingredients, and mix well. 

 
3.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and brush with olive oil, or spray generously with cooking spray.  Using the back of a spoon that has been sprayed with cooking spray, press the dough (the consistency will be closer to batter) evenly onto the pan, as thin as you can without creating holes.  Bake the dough for 10-15 minutes, or until set and beginning to brown. 

4.  Remove from oven, and fill with toppings.  Return the pan to the oven and bake 10-15 minutes more, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. 
 
My Favorite Topping:
  • Marinara (works better with cauliflower crust than white sauce or olive oil)
  • Goat cheese
  • Torn basil
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped canned artichokes
*optional- sliced mushrooms


THE VEGAN VERSION:


*Simply replace the egg and Parmesan in the original crust recipe with 1/4 cup ground flaxseeds soaked for 20 minutes in 1/4 cup water. 

VEGAN TOPPING:
  • 2 Swiss Chard leaves and stems
  • 1 cup canned artichokes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Sea Salt
1.  Chop the Swiss Chard Stems into a fine dice.  Mince the garlic.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and coat with 1 Tbsp olive oil. 
2.  Sautee the garlic for 1 minute with 1 Tbsp water.  Add the chard stems, and cook for 3 minutes. 
3.  Roll the Swiss Chard leaves and chiffonade (slice) them into long strips.  Add the leaves to the pan, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the artichokes and cook until the Chard leaves are wilted.  Stir in the lemon juice. 
4.  After you have baked the crust for 10-15 minutes, top with the chard and artichoke mixture, and return to oven for 5 minutes, until everything is heated through. 






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