Are you sick of hearing me wax on about this clean eating crap already? Me too. I’m a getting a little sick of talking about it. But to be honest, it’s actually been kind of awesome because the flavorful foods we’ve been eating have left little to be desired. Do I miss pasta and cakes and things? Sure. But I know in my heart of hearts that if I really, truly want something, I’m going to have it (because I’m an adult and I CAN). Case in point: this past weekend I followed up a night of drinking with a day gorging on pizza and chocolate chip cookies. So, yeah. I guess things haven’t changed all that much.
From here on out I’m looking to do an 80/20 sort of thing. No longer am I on a “cleanse” – that ended the minute my vacation started. It was a nice, productive 2-week break from all of my vices and I accomplished exactly what I wanted to – I detoxed from sugar, shed a few pounds, cleared out my head, and cleared up my skin. Moving forward, I’m just going to focus on avoiding foods that I know are horrible for me without cutting them from my life completely. The difference between now and a few months ago is that rather than continue to eat leftover pizza for the next 3 days, I sent it all with Chaser to the firehouse and opted to make these healthy gluten-free “pizzas” instead. The cookies however… They’re staying in the 20% for now.
I heard about this magical cauliflower pizza crust some time ago, and naturally, was super intrigued. The internet was completely losing it’s marbles over it. I bookmarked several recipes and had always planned on trying them, but then there was regular pizza… and it always won the dinner debate by a landslide. Now that I’ve taken up this whole “try not to overdose on gluten constantly” mantra, I decided to finally give it a try.
As luck would have it, I opened up my inbox this week to find this recipe in the Epicurious roundup, and I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. It was a done deal. The cauliflower crust – which I altered from this recipe based on the others I found – is made by buzzing up a whole head of raw cauliflower in the food processor and mixing it with just a few other ingredients to bind everything together and add a little flavor. It then gets baked, either on a pizza stone or in a pan, then topped, baked again, and served.
The verdict? It’s good – really good! But don’t let anyone fool you into believing this is actually pizza because it is not. Who are we kidding? If you’re expecting it to taste like pizza, like I did, sadly my friends, you may be a bit let down. But if you expect it to taste like a flavorful, cheesy, lemony vegetarian sort of pizza-like pie thing, you will be delighted!
Chaser and I determined that while the cauliflower crust is not really at all like pizza, it does manage to satisfy the carby craving for pizza in it’s own way. If you nix the whole lemony kale deal and top it with tomato sauce, gobs of mozz and pepperoni, it would probably taste a whole lot more pizza-y. But personally, I feel that if you’re going to go that far, you might as well just treat yourself and have a real-deal, doughy, chewy, glutentastic pizza. It’s worth it.
This is what I would describe as a knife-and-fork pizza as we found it didn’t hold up very well in our hands. One night on our recent trip to Chile, we opted to eat at a well-reviewed pizza joint in a tiny coastal town with limited dining options. We were surprised to find that we were the only people in the entire place that ate the thin crust pizza with our hands. We must have looked like animals to the refined Chileans who all ate their pizza with a knife, fork, and dignity. Be like a Chilean and don’t bother trying to fold this pizza like a New Yorker – it probably won’t end well.
All in all, I’m a fan of the cauliflower crust. I think it makes for a fun and flavorful weeknight dinner that’s packed with veggies in an unexpected format. And while it will never replace actual pizza in my life, it’s a solid substitute for when I’m working on sticking to that 80% of the formula.
- 1 whole head cauliflower, trimmed and roughly chopped (about 6 cups)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons almond meal
- 1/2 cup grated mozzarella (not fresh)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- olive oil, for drizzling
- 1 small bunch kale, stems removed and torn into pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- zest from 1 lemon, plus 1/2 lemon for squeezing
- generous pinch red pepper flakes, to taste
- salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan or pecorino Romano
- 1 ball fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- Preheat a pizza stone or upside down sheet pan in the oven at 425 degrees and tear off two square sheets of parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the cauliflower and pulse until very finely chopped - like the texture of fine breadcrumbs. You may need to do this in batches.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, almond meal, mozzarella, parmesan, salt and garlic powder. Add the cauliflower and mix until well combined.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on a pizza peel or the back of a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Place half of the cauliflower mixture on to the parchment and use your hands to form it into a large disc about 10-12 inches around. Drizzle with a little more olive oil, then slide it on to the pizza stone, parchment and all, and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown throughout. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower batter. Pizza crusts can be made several hours ahead.
- In a medium bowl, combine the kale, garlic, olive oil, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and season lightly with salt. Distribute the kale between both pizza crusts, then bake on the pizza stone for about 8-10 minutes or until the kale is wilted and crisp in parts. Remove from the oven and top with half of the mozzarella. Place back in the oven for 1 minute more or until the cheese is just barely melted. Repeat with the other pizza. Sprinkle with basil leaves, squeeze some lemon juice over the top, drizzle with olive oil, cut into wedges and serve.