As a small child, my pizza fetish (coupled with my grilled cheese addiction) led to such high cholesterol levels that my pediatrician actually forced my parents to limit my consumption. In order to avoid a very tiny grave, I was only allowed to eat pizza every other week for an entire year. Needless to say, 1993 sucked.
For the record, my cholesterol levels are now perfect (thank you very much), and pizza remains my favorite food. When it comes to late night, hangovers, and No-Calorie Sundays, pizza has been, and always will be, my best friend. And while the numerous times I have woken up hugging an empty pizza box may not be my proudest moments, they are a proof of my dedication to this most wondrous food. Long hair, don’t care.
I would probably be quite happy eating pizza everyday for the rest of my life, but this is impossible for a number of reasons. First of all, as much as I love pizza, it doesn’t make me feel so hot. More importantly, it doesn’t make me look so hot. Sure, I love a good Domino’s deep dish almost as much as my roommate, but unlike the Dude, I can’t handle the subsequent stomachache, night sweats, and waking up the next day looking puffier than post-breakdown Amanda Bynes. I just can’t.
I happened to be talking to a friend last week about this love-hate relationship with pizza, when she told me I should try cauliflower pizza crust. Interesting. As you may know, a number of variations on the cauliflower crust theme have been scattered across Pinterest, the blogosphere, and fitness magazines (which stress me out) over the past year. A few of the recipes looked shockingly good, but I was more than a little skeptical. Pizza is magical, and as much as I appreciate healthy alternatives, using cauliflower as the base seemed wrong on too many levels.
However, when I stumbled across a recipe for “The Best Cauliflower Crust Pizza” accompanied by glowing reviews, my domestic curiosity got the better of me. So, despite being fashionably late to the cauliflower pizza party, I set out to make “The Best Cauliflower Crust Pizza. EVER.” It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but a couple heads of cauliflower later, I finally ended up with one seriously badass pizza. I proudly present: Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Roasted Vegetables and Goat Cheese.
Let’s talk cauliflower crust, people. First, please don’t hyperventilate when you see the length of the recipe’s directions. You can 100% do this. To make the dough, you simply pulse the cauliflower in a food processor/blender, microwave the resulting “cauliflower sand,” wring the moisture out of it, and then mix in cheese, dried herbs, and an egg. Roll it out, and boom, you’re done. Personally, I find the hardest part is actually wringing out the moisture, but that may be an upper body strength issue.
As far as cooking time goes, once you make your dough, you’ll only need 20 minutes, tops. The cauliflower pizza crust gets pre-baked for 8-10 minutes, which turns it a nice golden-brown and crisps the edges. Then you simply spread your pizza with your favorite sauce, add mozzarella and toppings, and pop it back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Quick and painless.
If you’re not a huge cauliflower fan, please don’t write this recipe off just yet. Oddly enough, the crust doesn’t taste like cauliflower at all. In fact, thanks to a winning combination of Parmesan, mozzarella and herbs, it tastes sort of like a cheesy flatbread, which is awesome. Sure, it’s slightly chewier than traditional pizza dough, but it’s also intensely flavorful, and if you let it cool for a couple minutes before slicing it, I promise you’ll be able to pick it up easily with your hands.
In the spirit of maximizing the nutritional capacity of this lightened up pizza, I topped it with a fancy mix of roasted broccoli, bell peppers, and red onions, along with some sautéed mushrooms and creamy goat cheese for good measure. I was psyched about the flavors of the fresh vegetables and the textural variety they gave this bad boy, but feel free to accessorize your pie according to your personal style. If the lack of meat scares you, I recommend throwing on some turkey sausage or a couple slices of prosciutto. Honestly, dudes, even if you make a meat-lover’s version of this pizza, you’re still infinity times better off than crushing its mainstream equivalent. Fact.
I really like the idea of you all working this cauliflower pizza into your repertoire, friends. Think about how well it would go over at a Sex and the City Night, a “make your own pizza” party, or as a guilt-free appetizer at your next dinner party. Moneymaker. And Dude Dieters, you should definitely adopt the cauliflower pizza trend, stat. Unfortunately, I ate this before I could get the Dude’s opinion, but I’m 99% sure he would have shed excitement tears over this creation. You probably will too.
Blogger’s Note: Many a blogger have claimed that their cauliflower pizza was the best pizza they had ever eaten. Unless they have never actually tried pizza before, this is a lie. Nothing is better than real pizza. NOTHING. That said, if you’re having a craving for some ‘za, and you’d rather not wake up looking like an Oompa-Loompa tomorrow, this delicious, vegetable-laden pie will definitely hit the spot. You’re welcome.
Cauliflower Pizza Crust with Roasted Vegetables and Goat Cheese: (Serves 2)
For the cauliflower crust:
1 small head of cauliflower, florets removed
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
For the topping:
3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
½ small red bell pepper, sliced
1/3 cup broccoli florets
¼ small red onion, sliced
1/3 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup pizza sauce of your choice (you could also use pesto!)
½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled
Preparing your Cauliflower Pizza Crust with Roasted Vegetables and Goat Cheese:
-Place a pizza stone or baking sheet in your oven, and pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. On a pizza peel or cutting board, place a piece of parchment sprayed with non-stick cooking oil.
-Remove the florets from your head of cauliflower.
-Transfer the cauliflower sand to a microwave safe bowl and microwave, covered (not with aluminum foil, duh), for 4 minutes. Let your cauliflower cool completely. (Seriously, it needs to be cool or you will burn the shit out of your hands during the next step. Trust.)
-Place the cauliflower in a towel and wring it tightly. You want to remove as much moisture from the cauliflower as humanly possible. I recommend doing this in two batches to get your cauliflower really dry.
-Place your vegetables in the oven along with your dough.
-Bake for 8-10 minutes until the dough is golden brown. Carefully remove it from the oven.
-Bake for another 5-7 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling slightly. Remove your pizza from the oven and let cool for 2-3 minutes before slicing to make sure that the crust stays intact. Get weird with your guilt-free pizza, people! Vegetables are so hot right now.
*Crust portion of this recipe from Tasty Kitchen.
- 1 small head of cauliflower, florets removed
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- ½ small red bell pepper, sliced
- 1/3 cup broccoli florets
- ¼ small red onion, sliced
- 1/3 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
- ¼ cup pizza sauce of your choice (you could also use pesto!)
- ½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled
- Place a pizza stone or baking sheet in your oven and pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. On a pizza peel or cutting board, place a piece of parchment sprayed with non-stick cooking oil.
- Remove the florets from your head of cauliflower. Place the florets in a food processor or blender and pulse until the cauliflower has the texture of sand. You should have about 2½-3 cups of cauliflower sand.
- Transfer the cauliflower sand to a microwave safe bowl and microwave, covered (not with aluminum foil, duh), for 4 minutes.
- Let your cauliflower cool completely. (Seriously, it needs to be cool or you will burn the shit out of your hands during the next step. Trust.) When cool, place the cauliflower in a towel and wring it tightly. You want to remove as much moisture from the cauliflower as humanly possible. I recommend doing this in two batches to get your cauliflower really dry.
- Place the cauliflower pulp in a mixing bowl and add the cheeses, spices, and the egg. Mix until well combined. Using your hands is your best bet, friends.
- Form the dough into a ball and place it on the parchment-lined pizza peel or cutting board. Place a second piece of sprayed parchment on top of the dough ball and roll it out into a circle about 1/6-inch in thickness. Remove the second sheet of parchment and briefly set your pizza aside while you prepare your vegetables.
- Place the broccoli, bell peppers and onions on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Carefully transfer your dough to the hot pizza stone/baking sheet. Place your vegetables in the oven along with your dough. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the dough is golden brown. Carefully remove it from the oven along with your vegetables.
- While your dough is baking, quickly sauté the mushrooms in 1 teaspoon olive oil for 3-4 minutes until tender. Briefly set aside.
- Spread the sauce over the pizza dough and sprinkle with an even layer of mozzarella. Top with the roasted vegetables, sautéed mushrooms and crumbled goat cheese.
- Return the pizza to the oven for another 5-7 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling slightly.
- Let your pizza cool for 2-3 minutes before slicing to make sure that the crust stays intact. Get weird with your guilt-free pizza. Vegetables are so hot right now.
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