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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cauliflower Pizza Crust


























I have wanted to try this concept for a while, but never really had the courage, nor did I think Matthew would want to eat it.  I think the fact that I am helping him attempt a lower carb lifestyle, he is opening up to new ideas to replace the mundane repetition of salad with a protein or a protein with vegetables. I just can't do that day in and day out, although somehow, I love turkey and cheese roll-ups for lunch everyday...go figure!

There is some complexity to the crust, but I read all the directions of more than a dozen recipes, and I started my initial experiment with the recipe below.  As I wrote in my Facebook post, the secret is really to remove as much moisture as possible from the cauliflower...I don't want to know what would have happened if I hadn't squeezed the life out of it.  Make sure you purchase some cheese cloth; it really is the simplest way of going about it.  

This is my first try, so I don't know that I would say that I have perfected it, yet, but I will add comments of where I may improve as I write the directions.  In less than 24 hours, I have had so many requests for this recipe, I figured I would just write it out, and improve it as I experiment with the crust more...which, by the way, Matthew has already said I should make again, and soon :-)

Don't be alarmed by the length of this post.  The recipe is not that difficult, but, from what I have read, there are specific ways of doing things, AND, I wanted to document my experience, so this one will be longer than most.  Ready through it and make it your own :-)

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Cut up:

1 head of cauliflower (I used only the florets of the cauliflower, but I am not sure if using the whole thing would have made any difference in the taste.  Something to experiment with...)

Add the cut up florets into a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is a riced...I wish I had taken a picture of it, but, basically, all cauliflower florets should be broken up into pieces that resemble rice.  I actually broke down the florets into even smaller pieces; mine looked more like the size of dry couscous.  I don't know that it makes that much of a difference, as long as all the florets are broken up to be around the same size.  You will be squeezing it all through a cheese cloth after you microwave it, and it will look like cornmeal when you are done, so use your best judgement. Scoop:

2 cups riced cauliflower (I saved mine to use for cauliflower mash another day...maybe today?)

into a bowl and microwave it for 8 - 10 minutes.  Set on the counter and allow to cool.  In the meantime, in a bowl, combine:

1 egg
3/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (not the powder stuff, actually shredded)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Note: More often than not, the recipes I looked at stated a 1 to 1 to 1 ratio: 1 cup cauliflower to 1 cup cheese to 1 egg.  Now, the confusion came to the amount of cauliflower...was it 1 cup cauliflower florets, 1 cup riced cauliflower or 1 cup dehydrated cauliflower?  The second highest number of recipes stated to use 2 cups of riced cauliflower, so I same to the conclusion that 2 cups of riced cauliflower = 1 cup dehydrated cauliflower.  Although I didn't measure the dehydrated cauliflower, it looked like 1 cup, and the crust came out very well, so I am going to stick to the 2 cups of riced cauliflower.

When the cauliflower is cool enough to handle, spoon it into a large piece of cheese cloth.  Now, this next part takes a while, but enclose the cauliflower in the cheese cloth, and twist the cheese cloth to reduce the amount of moisture.  The more, the better.  Mine reduced by half.  Get rid of the water!!!




















This isn't my picture, but I wanted to show how you are supposed to twist up the cheese cloth...

Alright, once you have gotten as much water out as you can, dump the dehydrated cauliflower into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.  Mix using a soft spatula.  I'm not sure if there is a possibility of overmixing or not, but since I wasn't sure, I was cautious.  Once all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, it's time to bake! 

Several recipes said to place a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper on the sheet and spray heavily with oil.  I did not use the aluminum foil or the parchment paper, and simply sprayed the pan heavily with oil.  Using a metal spatula, I was able to bring it up easily, but everyone's pans are different, so if you are unsure, add the aluminum foil or parchment paper first.  Remember to spray HEAVILY with oil!  This is important, I promise.  

There is no need to roll out the crust with a rolling pin.  In fact, it will most likely be more of a mess than you want.  Simply using your palms and fingers, flatten the crust to your desired shape.  I made a round crust, and it came out to be about 12" in diameter.  If you want to double the recipe, I would recommend making 2 crusts, rather than a larger crust.  There will be a need to flip the crust and cooking the other side, as well.  I would think it would be more difficult to do this with a larger crust size.

Also remember to make the edges a little thicker than the middle.  The middle will take longer to cook, while the edges will brown first.  You don't want to burn the edges before the middle gets cooked.  Put into the oven for 5 minutes, then check it.  Mine cooked for 10 minutes, but then I didn't place it back in the oven once I flipped it because the edges were already nice and brown, and I didn't want to burn them.  Mine was fine, but I think I would have preferred to cook both sides, given the choice.  

Remove the pizza from the oven and turn the heat down to 350 degrees.  Add your toppings and put back in the oven for 5 - 10 minutes, based on the ingredients.  We used homemade tomato sauce, sliced mozzarella and pieces of basil; it cooked for 8 minutes.  SOOOOOOO GOOD!!!  Because this was the first time I was making the crust, I wanted to make sure the toppings were simple enough to taste test it...success!  I can't wait to do it again!!!

Ingredients
1 head of cauliflower
1 egg
3/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (not the powder stuff, actually shredded)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

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