Monday, July 6, 2015

Pizza Crust

Having given up a lot of foods that “regular” people eat, suffice it to say that although I feel so much better having made those changes, there are still times when I crave something on the “verboten” list.

Lately it’s been pizza.

I go into this state where I can just imagine all that doughy, cheesy goodness........the pizza sauce clinging to dough, the pepperoni with just the right “bite”, the cheese congealing it all together, the obligatory few veggies to make you think it’s quasi-healthy. Ah.......but then the harsh reality follows. After the satisfaction of having sunk my teeth into this Italian-American pie, what inevitably follows is a day and a half of digestive agony - the crippling gaseous pain that is enough to land me on the couch asking myself “why”. Why did I have to eat it?

Not worth it.

But, I still miss it.

The craving lingered and unable to resist it any longer I decided it was time to explore pizza crust alternatives. What ingredient could be used, flattened into a disk, that could somewhat pass as a crust? Ideally some kind of vegetable, so that it would be healthier.

Cauliflower, maybe? Not as strange as you may think it sounds. What the hell. I decided to try it. Here it is.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust 

1 small head of cauliflower, florets removed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten

Place a pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven and pre-heat to 450 degrees. 

  • Remove the florets from the cauliflower. Place them in a food processor or blender and pulse until the cauliflower has the texture of sand. You should have about 2 1/2 - 3 cups of cauliflower “sand”.

  • Transfer the cauliflower sand to a microwave safe bowl and microwave, covered, for about 4 minutes.
  • Let your cauliflower cool completely. When cool, place the cauliflower in a clean kitchen towel and wring it tightly to remove as much moisture as humanly possible. You may want to do this in 2-3 batches.
  • Place the cauliflower pulp in a mixing bowl and add the cheese, spices and egg. Mix until well combined. Use your hands.
  • Form the “dough” into a ball and place it on a piece of parchment paper sprayed with a little cooking oil. Place a second piece of sprayed parchment on top of the dough and roll it out into a circle about 1/16 inch in thickness. Remove the top sheet of parchment and carefully transfer your dough to the hot pizza stone/baking sheet. Bake anywhere from 10-20 minutes. My old oven took a little longer. A good oven should take about 10 minutes. Mine took about 20-25. You want it to be golden brown and crisp. Keep checking it after the 10 minute mark and leave it in longer if it’s not there yet. Time is not the issue, it’s being done that is.

  • While the crust is crisping, you can prepare your toppings. I used pre-cooked chicken, ready-made pesto sauce, and then just sautéed some mushrooms in a little freshly minced garlic. When the crust was ready, I spread on the pesto, sprinkled on the ‘shrooms and chicken, and then a little more shredded mozzarella on top. Then I baked it another 7-8 minutes until the cheese was melted.
Important: Let your pizza cool for 2-3 minutes before slicing to make sure that the crust stays intact.

Serve with a green salad and a glass of your favorite red wine.

Verdict: I still miss the dough, but this gave me that satisfaction from my pizza craving that I was looking for, all the while knowing that it was FAR healthier than the real thing anyway.

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