Low-Cal, Carb-and-Gluten-Free Cauliflower Crust
New Years' resolutions and promises of healthy eating are good and all, but I cannot imagine a life without pizza. Yet how else am I going to get serious about shedding some weight? Well, it turns out that the two pounds of cauliflower used in this crust contains only 50 calories. (Compare this to the 455 calories contained in one cup of flour!) So even with the added 78 calories for the egg and 142 calories for the Parmesan, this entire pizza can't have many more calories than one slice of a pizza I would normally make, especially since I went a lot lighter than usual with toppings. In addition, cauliflower is good for you. It is linked to lower instances of certain cancers and is packed with potassium and Vitamin C.
This cauliflower crust allowed me to get in my weekly pizza quota while sticking to my diet. The texture is like biting into a nice, soft cookie. The cauliflower itself doesn't have much taste, so the Parmesan cheese and oregano really stand out. The crust absorbs the flavor of any toppings you put on it.
Time: The entire recipe takes about 1:30 to complete, but only 30 minutes of that is active. The rest of the time the crust is cooking. Note that the crust needs to precook for 40 min. at 400°F before you add the toppings.
I was excited to discover that my local Trader Joe's sells riced cauliflower in 1 pound bags. If your local store doesn't carry this item, all you have to do is run your cauliflower through a food processor until the cauliflower looks like grains of rice.
Preheat your oven to 400°F while you put the cauliflower in a pot of boiling water (enough water to fully cover the cauliflower). Cook the cauliflower until it is soft (about five minutes or so).
Once the cauliflower is cooked, you have to get as much moisture as possible out of it. This is essential for the crust to hold together. First, put the cauliflower in a mesh strainer to drain, as well as to cool down.
Watch out for steam! Seriously, let that cauliflower cool a bit (about 10 min).
Once the cauliflower has cooled, put it in cheesecloth and wring out as much water as possible. Squeeze it hard to wring out all the water you can, and then squeeze it some more.
Once the cauliflower is thoroughly milked, turn it out into a medium-size bowl with one egg (beaten), 1/3 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese (this will help the crust stick together along with the egg), the oregano, and a pinch of salt to taste. You'll want to mix all of the contents of the bowl together thoroughly.
Next, lay out parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet or whatever you're going to use to cook the pizza on. (I used a cookie sheet.)
Pro Tip: DO NOT use wax paper, a silpat (non-stick sheet), or a greased pan. ONLY parchment paper will ensure the cauliflower dries out underneath. It is essential the crust dry out so it will stick together.
So once you've laid out the crust, form it in your desired shape. I made mine into a rectangle. Make sure the dough remains at least a 1/3 of an inch thick. Don't go too thin here! Then put the crust into the oven preheated to 400°F. Bake for 40 minutes.
Note that in the image below that is NOT parchment paper, but a non-stick sheet. (I learned midway through the baking process how essential the parchment paper is.)
Remove the cauliflower crust from the oven. Now it's time for toppings!
Topping Pro Tip: Keep in mind that this isn't the sturdiest of crusts. I suggest that you use toppings sparingly. For this pizza, I put down six thin slices of mozzarella cheese, salami on half, and homegrown basil on top. For a sauce, I applied a very thin coating of basil pesto.
After topping the pizza, return it to the oven for another 10 to 12 minutes.
I could not have been happier with the result. My wife and I ate the whole thing and did not feel disgustingly full. I plan to make this again next weekend!
Ingredients for Cauliflower Crust (size: roughly 14" at 1/3" thickness)
-1 egg (beaten)
-2 pounds of riced cauliflower
-2 Tbsp. oregano
-pinch of salt
-1/3 cup of parmesan cheese
Other Ingredients/Special Equipment
-thin coat of pesto for the sauce
-cheesecloth and mesh strainer
-thinly sliced Mozzarella
Other Toppings to Try*
*whatever you add, make sure it is thinly sliced and applied sparingly
-garlic and onion
-if adding mushrooms, cook the moisture off first