I posted this weekend about a friend looking for healthy solutions for her cravings. I solved the French Toast Problem! Now, to tackle pizza, another one of her favorite foods. I can sympathize. There are 3 pizza places within 4 blocks of my apartment. One of them I can smell because it’s across the street. So. Not. Cool.
But fear not! There are solutions to the pizza problem!
Cauliflower Pizza Casserole with Pepperoni is a recipe I shared awhile ago. It’s a great pizza substitute option because you can customize it with toppings you like and it freezes really well. You can make 3 or 4 batches, put it in the freezer and when you are feeling like pizza, take it out and pop it in the oven – almost like normal frozen pizza, except way more healthy for you!
I recently tried a more traditional approach to making pizza, also with cauliflower. There are lots of cauliflower pizza recipes out there, but many have lots of steps and in my opinion are over complicated. No matter what you do, cauliflower is never going to have the exact texture of pizza dough. This is not pizza you can eat with your hands. But it still tastes great and will leave you feeling good – and isn’t that what matters? 🙂 You can make the pesto ahead of time, as well as the mix for the crust and store in the fridge until you’re ready for pizza night – paleo style!
Mini Pesto Pizzas with Cauliflower ‘Crust’
1/2 head cauliflower, green parts removed and cut in half**
1/2 cup almond flour (you can make your own, just grind up whole almonds)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 green onion, minced (optional)
1 tablespoon grassfed butter (or coconut oil)
salt & pepper
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup pecans (can use all pine nuts)
juice of half a lemon (no seeds!)
1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper
For the Pesto:
Place the garlic and nuts in a food processor, pulse. Add basil and lemon juice, pulse until well blended. With food processor running, slowly add olive oil to mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store in an air tight jar, in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Makes approximately 8 oz (1 cup) pesto.
**I recommend you buy a whole head and steam it. Bagged pieces of cauliflower do not work as well a a whole head that is still hooked together. You can use the other half of the head for many things! The easiest would be to puree them up in the food processor with a little garlic, salt and pepper and use them as a substitute for mash potatoes. They keep well in the fridge and you can heat them up when ready to serve.
First, you are going to steam the cauliflower. The trick is to NOT over steam it. In a large pot (big enough to fit the whole head), fill bottom with 1.5-2 inches of water. No more! Stick your index finger in the water, the level should be below your 2nd knuckle. Heat the water over medium heat until just before boiling. Place the cauliflower in the pot. Cover and cook 15 minutes, then check it. The cauliflower is done when a knife can be easily inserted and remove from the head. It should still retain it’s white color and it’s shape – if it starts to get translucent, you have over cooked it. This means your cauliflower will have excess water in it and will not be ideal for a crust… you might want to try making the casserole I mention above instead… But hopefully you didn’t over cook it!
Place eggs, garlic, cauliflower and butter in the food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add almond flour, onion and seasonings; mix well. At this point, you can store the crust mix in the fridge until you a ready to eat.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet. As you can see below, I use mason jar rings to help mold the cauliflower into perfect circles. It helps that I have a lot of them lying around, but if you don’t, you could use cookie cutters. Just place the mold on the parchment paper and scoop the cauliflower into the molds with a spoon. Press lightly to fit, then remove the mold. Boom! Perfect circles.
Place the cauliflower crusts in then oven to cook for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the edges start to brown. Remove from oven. Top with pesto. I also added goat cheese to mine. You could add the cheese of your choice, tomato sauce or fresh diced tomatoes, shredded chicken, sausage, onions or olives to name a few! I highly recommend trying it with the pesto – I know it’s a little more work but there is nothing like fresh pesto. Place the pizzas back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes (or until cheese melts). Remove from oven. Let stand on cookie sheet 5 minutes before serving with a spatula (this will help the pizzas retain their shape).
This is a great side dish to serve with sautéed or baked chicken breasts, or any kind of protein you choose. To round out the meal, make a simple salad with mixed greens. You can also use the pesto as a salad dressing.