Fact: Americans love pizza. We adore pizza so much that we’re reported to consume three billion pies, per year, in this country. And while that is an incredibly high number, pizza also does get a bad rep in some circles. We’re informed it’s fattening, often filled with unhealthy ingredients like highly refined flour and processed meat, and, of course, is packed with something many people are terrified of: gluten.
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Luckily, there are other ways to eat pizza that don’t involve inhaling copious amounts of gluten or sticking a frozen pizza—jammed with indecipherable ingredients—into the oven. That’s where Chowhound’s Editor-at-Large Joey Skladany comes into pizza play, thanks to a recipe for cauliflower crust pizza found in his new cookbook “Basic Bitchen.”
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Joey, like many pizza lovers, can’t claim he prefers cauliflower crust. “That’s ludicrous,” he says. “But I do love how, when cooked right, you can mask its bland awfulness by incorporating different herbs, cheeses, and spices. You can also get it to crisp well, which lends itself to a mouthfeel that’s similar to bread.”
Plus, cauliflower crust is a great alternative for anyone who has gluten sensitivities or is looking for a pizza dough option that has fewer carbs.
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“Pizza is one of those things you shouldn’t eliminate from your diet—or it will cause bouts of excessive hanger,” Joey says. “Cauli pizza is a fantastic alternative and allows for you to indulge without going completely overboard.”
Joey’s recipe calls for 3 cups of riced cauliflower, pulled from one large head of cauliflower (or if you’re into shortcuts you can buy pre-riced cauliflower at most grocery stores). No matter which direction you go, you’ll want to make sure to wring out the “rice” to get rid of any excess moisture.
“Having wet cauliflower leads to cauliflower crust failure,” Joey explains. “The only thing that should be binding your rice is eggs and cheese. I recommend diversifying your cheese types and textures, but always include a grated variety to really coat the rice and absorb some of the excess liquid.”
The recipe calls for adding a mix of parmesan, mozzarella, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt, and an egg to the riced cauliflower, which will not only give the crust a nice savory flavor, but will also guarantee it’ll stay together once it’s out of the oven.
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Once the pizza crust has been prepared and pressed into a circle, it needs to be pre-baked for 15 minutes. When it’s warm and starting to crisp up, take it out to scatter your toppings across the surface. This recipe suggests a swipe of tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, red pepper flakes, and a final sprinkling of parmesan. But really you can get as creative as you want; even Joey goes above and beyond to spice his pie up.
“I’m super Italian and typically go with a spicy marinara [sauce], topped with pepperoni, soppressata, parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses, and then tons of roasted garlic, red onions (sometimes caramelized), and fresh basil,” Joey says. “It’s the perfect pizza trifecta: sweet, spicy, and salty.”
A Deeply Personal Cauliflower Pizza Recipe
Every time I’m pitched cauliflower-something by a publicist, an angel loses its wings. It’s like people who vape or get their septum pierced: We get it, it’s a thing, congratulations, but stop telling us about it every day of our lives. Cauliflower crust definitely makes personal pizzas healthier, but it’s similar to those times when I say I’m going on a five-mile jog and am back ten minutes later. The intentions are there, though the self-sabotage is real. So enjoy this pizza however you’d prefer. If you opt for the surprisingly delicious cauliflower crust below, that’s great! But just know that you’re probably going to top it with processed meat and cheese anyway. It’s pizza and your diet should be reserved for less amazing things, like dandelion-green salads and cayenne/ lemon juice elixirs.
A Deeply Personal Cauliflower Pizza
- 3 cups riced cauliflower (from 1 large head cauliflower)
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/3 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
- Red pepper flakes, for garnish (optional)
- Parmesan cheese, grated, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- First make your crust: Add the cauliflower rice to a microwave-safe bowl and cover. Heat on high for 6 to 8 minutes until tender. Uncover and allow to cool slightly.
- Once the cauliflower has cooled, transfer to a kitchen towel and wring out the excess moisture. Return to a large bowl. Add the Parmesan, mozzarella, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt, and egg. Mix to combine. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and press into a 10-inch circle. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes until golden.
- Remove from the oven and top with the tomato sauce and mozzarella. Return to the oven to bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with basil, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan. Slice and serve.
- JUST THE TIPS: You can also cook your cauliflower rice in the oven. Add it to a sheet tray and bake for 15 minutes until tender. Let it cool and then wring out.
Header image by Davide Luciano.