Saturday, February 4, 2012

One More Super Bowl Snack And The Provenance Of The Cauliflower Crusted Pizza

I’ve been reading about a Cauliflower Crust Pizza for a while now and I decided to try it last night. I thought it would be a great addition to my plant-based Super Bowl snacks if it came out well.

As far as I can tell, the original recipe for this cauliflower pizza crust comes from Jamie on Your Lighter Side blog. Here's her recipe, but these gluten-free folks have been doing wacky things with cauliflower for a while now, so I’m not sure if this is the first mention ever. BTW, Jamie takes her property rights really seriously and I’m with her. She doesn’t want any stealing of her recipes. Mention her, link back to her, but don’t be posting HER recipe! No problem, I couldn’t agree more. (I know no court in the country that would convict anyone for posting someone else’s recipe, but it’s smarmy, so I don’t do it.)

The cauliflower pizza crust has also gotten a lot of play (with the proper credit) from Eat. Drink. Smile., when Beth made a gorgeous looking pizza from the crust.  

Another popular rendition is from Recipe Girl, where Lori came up with a spectacular Hawaiian Pizza with the cauliflower crust. She also gave props to Beth and the original recipe.

The reason I looked around so much was that there were a few things that bothered me about all of these recipes. The WAY of cooking of the cauliflower seemed strange and so did the term “riced cauliflower”.

About that second thing, what they meant (I think) is cauliflower made into the size of rice. But when I see the word “riced”, I think it means I have to drag out my ricer and somehow get the hard cauliflower through it.

Some recipes for this crust have you “ricing” the cauliflower before cooking (which would be completely impossible in a real ricer), and some have you doing it after.

I think the best plan was what Eat. Drink. Smile. gal came up with. Throw the florets in the food processer to make rice-like pieces BEFORE cooking. 

You do need to cut the cauliflower into medium pieces before pulsing it. Also remember that working with cauliflower is a messy enterprise. It seems to fly up and gravitate to every corner of the kitchen as you’re cutting it up.

I also changed the cooking method of the cauliflower. Jamie used frozen cauliflower. I didn’t want to go that way and Beth microwaved hers for 8 minutes. If I’m going to cook something for 8 minutes, I’m probably not going to microwave it. (Electricity is expensive!) ALSO I knew I was making more than 1 pizza with 1 cup of so of cauliflower. And that increases the microwaving time even more.

So I steamed it. I do have a nifty steamer-thingie that fits in a sauce pan,


but you could just set a colander or even a large strainer above boiling water.

I steamed the “riced” cauliflower for 8 minutes. (I actually forgot about it and left it cooking for almost 10 minutes, but it wasn’t supersoft. There was still a bite to it.)

I thought the original recipe used too much cheese to cauliflower. The point was to make it vaguely healthy, so I used 1½ cups of cauliflower to 1 cup of cheese. Recipe girl uses even more cauliflower, so next time I may too. Also one cauliflower made almost 7 cups of the finely chopped cauliflower, so, of course, I was going to use more than a cup.

I baked the untopped crust for the 15 minutes that every recipe suggested. Then I tasted a bit of it. Not bad, but kind of bland. It definitely needed the ½ teaspoon of salt that I added (for a recipe double the size of the original). I think next time I would season up the mixture a lot more - maybe with chili powder and bit of cayenne.

Whatever you top the pizza with has to be cooked first. That’s no problem, because I always grill my crust before I bake it, so the top stuff is always sautéed and ready to go.

After you bake the crust, you top it with your (cooked) stuff and then put it under the broiler. Warning: 4, even 3, minutes is WAY TOO LONG. Unfortunately, H’s pizza got burned. I told him it was charred in an artisan-like way. But watch it carefully.

Aside from that, how did H like it? (I really liked it by the way.) I told him it was a “vegetable” crust, which I knew wouldn’t scare him away, But he is not fond of my cauliflower “mashed potatoes”, so I avoided the use of that word. This is what he said, “It’s ACTUALLY good.” Not completely what I was looking for, but still okay and he managed to eat most of one pizza by himself.

The final verdict? I liked it…a lot. Actually, H made a very telling remark. He said the crust tasted like an omelet, which was exactly right. I got absolutely no taste of cauliflower, which is probably a good thing when trying to sell the idea of this pizza.

Is it fit for company? It’s not that easy to eat (you need a fork) and some people may object to a gassy vegetable in place of a crusty layer of crisp dough to sink their teeth into. But what the hey? I’m all for lying to fooling people about what’s in something. Obviously, I would never deceive a vegetarian about a meat or fish product ingredient, but to run-of-the-mill dead flesh eaters, I would have no problem NOT mentioning the cauliflower.

I will definitely make this again and rotate it into our Friday night pizzas. But for the Super Bowl? I do have all that extra “riced” cauliflower in the fridge…so maybe.

Enjoy the game. I hope your team wins. The only team I'm rooting for is the commercials-better-be-good team. I don’t have anywhere near enough time to start learning about what it is exactly they’re doing on that field.


My Version Of Many Folks’ Cauliflower Crusted Pizza (Makes two pizzas)
Printable recipe here

1 cauliflower
2 eggs
2 cups of shredded mozzarella (a bit less than 8 oz.)
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 tbl. chili powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

My Toppings (Use any others you want):
2 chicken sausages, halved lengthwise and sliced
¾ cup tomato sauce
¾ cup fig jam
1 tbl. olive oil
1 red onion
10 oz. mushrooms slices
½ red pepper
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
About 8 oz. mozzarella, shredded
Chopped anchovies, sliced olives…go wild

Cover two large baking sheets with foil. Coat them with nonstick spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 450° F.

For crust, cut the core out of the cauliflower and discard. Cut the remaining cauliflower into even-sized 2 inch pieces. In batches, pulse in food processor fitted with metal blade until chopped finely. (The pieces ARE bigger than rice grains, but still fairly fine.) Measure out 3 cups. Cover and refrigerate the extra for another time.

Place the 3 cups of “riced” cauliflower over boiling water. Steam, uncovered, for 8 minutes.Spread cauliflower out onto dinner plate to cool.   

Meanwhile in a large bowl, beat the eggs with a fork until mixed. Stir in remaining crust ingredients. Place half the crust mixture on each baking sheet. 

Pat out crust as thinly as you can in any shape you like. I usually make oval pizzas. Make sure the edges are nicely done and even. Don’t fan them out too thinly. Bake in preheated 450° F oven for 15 minutes. Remove. (I left mine for an hour before topping them.)

For the topping:
In a small sauté pan, cook the chicken sausage until browned and crispy on one side. 

Stir well and cook for another 3 minutes on medium heat. Heat olive oil in large sauté pan. Add onion and cook for 4 minutes. It doesn’t have to be completely softened. Add red pepper slices and cook for another 2 minutes. Push those to the side and add the mushrooms. Cook on medium high heat, without stirring, until the mushrooms begin to brown on the bottom. Then mix all the vegetable AND the sautéed chicken sausage together; add a ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes or until things are looking the way you want them to.

Spread the tomato sauce on one pizza and the fig jam on the other. Top each pizza with half the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle over half the cheese on each one and any other toppings you like.

One at a time, broil each pizza on the top rack for one minute. THEN WATCH CAREFULLY until the cheese is just starting to brown (not char.) 



Cut with a pizza cutter and eat with a fork. 


Susan said...

This looks really different! I'm surprised by the fig jam on the pizza and was wondering how you came up with it and how it tastes with savory ingredients? I love figs!

Anonymous said...

Wow -- really interesting! Thanks for doing all that recipe research. I love cauliflower so I'm looking forward to trying it. And with all that cheese, how could it not be good?

Abandoned By Wolves said...

You know, that's so crazy, it Just.Might.Work!!!!

My wife does most of the crumb and crust work in our kitchen, but I think I could manage this crust as a base for an interesting pizza.

Sheila said...

Looks delicious! And I also love lying to and fooling people in the kitchen. Especially my husband.

Sue said...

Hi Susan,
I've been using fig jam in little tartlets for a while. As far as using it instead of tomato sauce on a pizza...don't tell anyone, but I got the idea from Pioneer Woman(!!!). She covered the dough in fig jam and parmesan cheese and then topped it with arugula, I think.

Thanks Tom!
I also found a version of cauliflower pizza on Dr. Oz's website, but it was posted later than the others (and with no attribution).

Thinking about it now and with H's comment, the crust IS actually just a very low-egg version of a frittata. I should see how much cauliflower I can get away with adding to each egg, before it becomes a big mess.

Don't think of this as a crust, especially with regard to my comment to Tom. It's just a mass of wet stuff than you need to press into whatever shape you want in a somewhat tidy way. ACTUALLY, you could probably make it in a square glass baking dish. (I make most of my frittatas that way now for ease of serving).

You're a woman after my own heart! Should I worry when my deception leaves the kitchen and travels into other rooms of the house? ;-)

Emily said...

Wow! I think it looks delicious! I've seen this recipe througout the blogisphere, but yours looks the best.

I will have to try it soon. I think I'll send this to my dad, too. He's a fan of low carb food.