So, this whole paleo/primal thing leaves a pizza lover fairly stranded. It’s difficult to find a decent replacement for the thick and chewy (or thin and crispy) crust that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re missing out.
In my quest for a primal pizza, I tried a couple different things, all with lackluster results.
Have you seen the ‘meatza’? The idea is to make your pizza using ground beef as a crust. I was dubious, but willing to give it a try. Unfortunately, all I got was a tasty meatloaf.
There’s another method that is similar, and weaves bacon strips in a lattice as a crust and then cooking it, topping and baking it. OF COURSE it was delicious, (hello, bacon crust!), but that just didn’t give me pizza satisfaction either.
For a long time I went without a crust…just piled all the veggies and toppings in a pie pan layered with sauce, topped with cheese, and baked until bubbly. Delicious, yes, tasty and easy….but I still didn’t get that mouthfeel that I wanted, the satisfaction of PIZZA.
Last week, I stumbled across this recipe for a cheesy cauliflower crust at Paleolithe.com. As a recent convert to the idea of using cauliflower to replace starchy things (mashed potatoes, rice, etc), I thought the idea had potential- I had to give it a try, especially for the sake of Chris, who wouldn’t be happy with my meatza or my pie-pan pizza (and that man loves his pizza).
The things I do for love.
I wasn’t quite sure how much crust one head of cauliflower would make, so I started with two, and tossed them in the steamer after a quick chop.
The next step in the directions was to squeeze out all the excess water by layering paper towels on a towel, wrapping the cauliflower mixture up and giving it a good twist.
I repeated this step twice, just for good measure, until I had a pretty firm ball of…mush.
The mush needed to be seasoned and the (almond) flour and cheese and egg added. I mixed up the egg, salt, and spices separately, then added it all to the rest of the ingredients in a big bowl.
The next step is to smear it on the parchment paper in a thin, even layer. The mixture spread pretty easily, all things considered, after removing a few un-processed chunks from the mixture The 2 heads of cauliflower gave me 3 good sized pizza crusts.
I hazarded a guess at the temp of the oven, and went with 350 (since the directions didn’t say).
40 minutes later, I had this rather pretty pizza crust!
I started the crusts in the afternoon, since the caveboys had a couple baseball practices in the evening. The crusts just hung out looking awesome for a couple hours. When we came home, it was a snap to spread the crusts with homemade pizza sauce that I jarred last summer and our toppings and broil the pizzas to done-ness.
A ‘works’ pizza for me and DH- pepperoni, homemade sausage, bell pepper, mushroom, ham, and olives.
I didn’t have the pizza centered under the broiler, so one side was a little more well done than the other, but it was still delicious.
I also made a ham/sausage/pepperoni pizza for DH, and then my personal favorite….
Greek pizza, with baby spinach, green pepper, tomato, olives, onion, and feta cheese. Yum.
So how did the crust hold up?
The center of the pizzas got a bit mushy, which is to be expected, considering you’re piling a bunch of wet ingredients on top, heating it, and the crust becomes steamed. As long as you don’t mind eating with a fork, it’s just fine. I’ll be playing with the pre-baking and maybe transferring to a rack so that the parchment doesn’t sit all full of moisture and add to the sog factor.
Chris is used to my (admittedly fantastic) homemade pizza dough with the fabulously crispy floury crust, so this was a bit of an adjustment. Since I haven’t had anything of the sort in 6 months, this was perfect for me. The cauliflower taste wasn’t strong at all, and fairly well masked by the toppings.
So, will we repeat this? Oh, heck yeah. It’s the closest thing I’ve found to a pizza replacement, and I’m excited about it!
I wasn’t sure how it would taste the next day. Chris tossed all the pizzas into ziploc bags, and they all sort of mushed at the bottom (since he ignored my suggestion of using the paper plate to keep them in whole slices). I fished out a chunk of each (great visual, right?) and forked it up cold- I’m a lover of cold pizza.
Anyway, the taste was really good. The texture was slightly mushy here and there, with all crispiness and the idea of the crust long gone, but it was more of a lasagna mouthfeel, and totally edible.
Primal Pizza with a Cheesy Cauliflower Crust
Yield: 1 medium pizza (3-6 Servings)
- Prep: 20 mins
- Cook: 45-50 mins
- Ready In: 1 hr 5 mins
1 head cauliflower chopped
8 oz mozzerella cheese shredded
parmesan cheese shredded, to taste
romano cheese shredded, to taste
2 tbsp coconut or almond flour
1-2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp oregano dried
1-2 tsp basil dried
toppings of your choice
5-6 tbsp sauce marinara, pesto, anything you want
Get some water boiling and chop up the cauliflower. Put the cauliflower in a steamer basket over the boiling water and cover, letting it steam until very tender (about 10 minutes).
While the cauliflower is steaming, shred all the cheeses together. I like to have a blend of mozzarella, parmesan and romano, but any combo will do.
Now it’s time to get rid of as much water from the cauliflower as possible. Once the cauliflower is done, move it to a bowl and mash it.
Lay out some dish towels with lots of paper towels on top. Put the cauliflower on top and wrap the towels around it, pressing down and squeezing the water out. CAREFUL, it’ll be HOT.
Repeat the towel squeezing step. Once sufficiently dry (we only squeezed twice), mix together cauliflower, coconut or almond flour, 1/2 of the cheese, the spices and the egg.
Put parchment paper over a baking sheet and spread the cauliflower mixture onto the paper, making it into a thin crust. Pop into the oven for 35-40 minutes.
When the crust has a nice golden brown edge, take the pizza out and put the sauce of your choice on it.
Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the sauce, and then add toppings on top. We sauteed onions, mushrooms and sausage and then put that on our pizza.
Set oven to broil and pop the pizza back in for 8 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Enjoy!
Note: The very center of our crust wasn’t strong enough to make the pizza slices hand held. But we think if we had let the crust bake a little longer before putting toppings on, it might have worked out.
recipe courtesy of Paleolithe.com