Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I am not one to go shrieking, “Carbs mean carnage!!,” as the unstable duck in the movie Babe does about Christmas. As I’ve noted before, I love carbs. So I’m mildly troubled to report that, since embarking on an ostensibly healthier and lower carb overall eating strategy, I don’t crave them. In fact, the idea of eating a pizza crust, once music to my taste buds, now strikes a less harmonious note. The thought of a full-blown pizza crust, most nights, just sounds heavy and unappealing. For those nights, I give you this cauliflower pizza crust.

Cauliflower pizza crust hosts roasted veggies.

It turned out well, even with no cheese on hand. It’s not entirely vegan; I used an egg bc I was too lazy to make a flax version. But there’s zero gluten or dairy, and the carb count is low. You can pile on vegetables like there’s no tomorrow—even as a bold, glorious, unbloated tomorrow awaits you because you’re all gluten-free and healthy.

Keep reading for step by step instructions; or just jump directly to the recipe.

Tip Number 1: Don’t buy that crumbled up cauliflower rice because it’s ridiculously expensive, and, to quote Harvey Milk, you don’t know where it’s been. Just cut up half a cauliflower in even size pieces, about an inch or two sized cubes, then throw it in your food processor and chop, chop, chop your troubles away.

Cauliflower pizza crust starts with crumbling the cauliflower in the food processor

If your food processor is like mine, i.e., old as hell, get out the noise-cancelling headphones; chopping anything, especially cauliflower, sounds like a Mad Max death rally, though blessedly, without Mel Gibson screaming about how sane he is. I just dated myself, because nobody who’s not in their Golden Years even knows who Mr. Gibson is. Meanwhile, everyone knows that the greatest Mad Max of All Time is Charlize Theron.

Charlize Theron is THE greatest Mad Max ever.

Anyway, now you have a big old bowl of cauliflower crumbles. Many a recipe, either for cauliflower rice or cauliflower pizza crust, provides the mystifying instruction to boil the rice, then squeeze out the water. People, don’t add water to food. Just don’t. I mean, I’m sure there will come a time where I’ll say, yo, add some water to those ingredients. But I can’t imagine the circumstances.

However, you gotta do something to soften up the cauliflower crumbles, and as usual, I advocate roasting. Add some olive or grapeseed oil to the bowl, just about a tablespoon, and some salt, pepper, and spices. I always like harissa (the powdered kind), but a Mexican or Italian blend will work just fine. Evenly distribute the oil and spices, spread the cauliflower out on a parchment lined baking sheet, and roast for about 20 minutes in a 400º oven.

Let the roasted crumbles cool about 10 minutes; leave the oven on. Then mix them in the bowl with an egg. A flax egg will probably work if you’re vegan, but I haven’t tested it, so proceed at your own risk. A nice handful of grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese would add crispness and savory flavor. But you might not have cheese on hand, or you might not be a dairy person, in which case you can do what I did for this version: Add a couple of heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Also, some kind of bread crumb, about 1/4 cup for a medium-sized bowl of cauliflower. I used garbanzo crumbs; I’m not quite sure what they are (grated garbanzo beans? toasted garbanzo flour?), but they stood in nicely. Use panko if you want some gluten in your life, a desire for which I will never, ever scold you.

Cauliflower pizza crust, after roasting the cauliflower and adding to other ingredients

Now, scrape the mix onto the baking sheet.

Cauliflower pizza crust ready to rollThen take a piece of wax paper or parchment and press the mixture into an even circle; in a pinch, you can use gloves or your hands, but it’s kinda sticky, so if you use some type of paper, it’s easier and less messy.

Cauliflower pizza crust rolled out and ready to cookYou want it to end up about 10-12 inches in diameter. Remove what you used to push it down, then pop it in the oven about 12-15 minutes. At the bottom, you can see that one little piece of cauliflower that was all, “You can’t crumble me!” Feisty little vegetable.

Cauliflower pizza crust ready for toppings like roasted veggies.

The chickpea crumbles and nutritional yeast imparted a nice saffron-ish color that you’d normally get from cheese. But here’s something you need to be really clear on: If you expect a cauliflower pizza crust to be an adequate sub for regular pizza crust, you will be sad. You can’t rip into a cauliflower pizza crust. You don’t sink your teeth  and tear each bite in that satisfying “I’m a Pizza Pig! Oink! Oink!” way that you can with even a $5 Hot and Ready from Little Caesar’s.

But you can have a nice light alternative that’s more fun than just eating a sturdy, healthy heap o’ roasted vegetables. I piled mine high with an oddball mix of roasted fennel, radicchio, and—yes, this is eccentric—strawberries added for just a minute at the end. Roasted strawberries taste strange and wonderful, but do not overcook them, or you will have some bizarre pale red mush on your plate. Just add them to your pan at literally the last minute if you’re feeling dangerous, as Belle and Sebastian used to say. A few pistachios on top added crunch. #weirdbutgood

Cauliflower pizza crust hosts roasted veggies.

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust: The Recipe

roasted carrots from le chou fou

Roasted Carrots

Unlike so many vegetables, carrots sell themselves. They’re sweet, crunchy, and always the first thing to disappear on the crudité platter. I like them pickled and on hand to add to pretty much any handheld food. In fact, they satisfy so nicely raw, you might not consider cooking them. Roasted carrots may change that.
Jump to recipe.

I particularly like roasting (and pickling for that matter) when it comes to those bags of multicolored carrots. Truthfully, I’m not sure if it’s just me or if the lighter colored carrots, the yellow and white ones, really don’t have as much flavor as the orange and purples, but when I see them next to the dip, I avoid them. Not so when they’re roasted and tasty.

If you’ve been following the roasted vegetable posts over the last few days (including roasted kale chips and roasted cauliflower ), nothing here will shock you. Simply slice the carrots nice and thin; alternatively, you can leave them whole, in which case you’d roast them longer.

multicolored carrots, cut up and ready for roasting

Then toss with oil and seasonings, roast for 15 minutes, stir, test to see how much longer they need to cook, which might be 5 or 15 minutes.  Eat them hot or save to toss into things later in the week.

roasted carrots from Le Chou Fou

I like this recipe idea from the allrecipes print magazine; they toss roasted carrots with salad dressing, blue cheese, dried cranberries, and arugula. I just gave you the recipe, pretty much, but if you need exact amounts, their official roasted carrot salad recipe is at the link above.

Roasted Carrots: The Recipe

roasted cauliflower, delicious and easy to make

Roasted Cauliflower

I love cauliflower. Apparently, so do a lot of other people at this particular culinary moment. Like kale before it, it’s hot. Unlike Brussels sprouts after it, it’s versatile. A batch of roasted cauliflower keeps for several days, and in that time you can throw it into pretty much anything—a bowl, pasta, on a pizza, etc. And, as with all roasted vegetables, it’s easy, easy, easy.

Jump to recipe.

This cauliflower is hanging out with its roasting buddies. (And in case you want a different vegetable from this pic, here’s the recipe for Roasted Kale Chips.)

cauliflower waits to become roasted cauliflower

You can sub cauliflower for a huge mass of things. Paleo and ketogenic diets use it as a potato swap, though I will warn you that it won’t ever be as creamy as mashed potatoes. It makes an ok pizza crust as long as you don’t try to pretend it’s the real thing. I see it standing in for meat; cauliflower steaks pop up all over the place. That particular iteration strikes me as a little too trendy. I’m not a huge fan of the “let’s pretend this is something it isn’t” phenomenon when it comes to food. Just use the florets as nature intended, naturally bite-sized, without all this silly knife and fork biz.

As will all Roasted Vegetables, the process is ridiculously easy. Start by heating the oven to 400º. While it heats, cut the florets of the main cauliflower stem; many will be the right size, but some will be unweildy to stab and put in your mouth. Keep that in mind as you halve any giant florets. Put them in a bowl with some oil—you can use melted coconut, olive, or grapeseed—salt to taste, and the spice mix of your choice. I really like the Harissa blend from Whole Foods, but use whatever you want. cauliflower prior to roasting

Toss the florets well, lay them out on a baking sheet covered with parchment. Roast, then check after 20 minutes. Stir, then roast another 10-15 minutes. I like the florets beginning to brown, soft but still possessing some texture. The roasting brings out a wonderful sweetness.

I’m fond of having these on hand to add to whatever I’m eating that day. I’m equally fond of just noshing on them. Enjoy with a complete lack of guilt, because on the health front, cauliflower—with properties that fight cancer and inflammation and a load of vitamins and minerals—rocks.

roasted cauliflower after cooking

Roasted Cauliflower: The Recipe

roasted kale chips, the super keto snack

Roasted Kale Chips: The Perfect Keto Snack

Steve eats keto. I confess the concept leaves me cold. I don’t like nuts that much, and also I don’t think carbs are necessarily evil. Nonetheless, I get that carbs are very easy to overdo. Roasted Kale Chips cook up so damn easy, I wonder why I don’t always have them on hand. If you’re on a ketogenic diet, you just found your popcorn substitute.  (If you don’t know what I mean and would like to know more, here’s a good intro to ketogenic diets.)
Jump to recipe.

roasted kale chips, the perfect keto snack

Start by heating the oven to 400º. While it heats, tear the kale of the stem, then into small pieces. Put it in a bowl with some oil—you can use melted coconut, olive, or grapeseed—salt to taste, and the spice mix of your choice. I really like the Harissa blend from Whole Foods, but use whatever you want.

roasted kale chips, the perfect keto snack

Toss them well, lay them out on a baking sheet covered with parchment. Roast, then check after 20 minutes. The kale turns a nice bronzy color and shatters in your mouth.

roasted kale chips, the perfect keto snackSo much healthier than nachos, and to my palate, tastier. Cuddle up on the couch with these and the streaming video service of your choice. Know this caveat if you do sneak some roasted kale chips into the theater: When opening chips stored in an airtight bag (the best way to store them), a distinctly brassica odor  smacks you in the nostrils. In other words, they can be a tad bit stinky, but only when you first open the bag. Just know before you go.  roasted kale chips, the perfect keto snack

Roasted Cauliflower Chips: The Recipe

Classic vinaigrette two ways, one with mustard, one with pesto

Classic Vinaigrette

As noted in this Salad Principles post, the revised formula for classic vinaigrette requires:

  • Stingy use of acid
  • Generous use of oil
  • Judicious hand with salt
  • Insanity with pepper

Here’s a guide to help you customize your version.

Classic Vinaigrette features oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sometimes mustard

Classic Vinaigrette: Acid

  • Cider is my go-to for most American and Northern European cuisine.
  • Tarragon vinegar is my favorite for a more French version of a salad (which is usually just greens and dressing).
  • Both cider and tarragon mix wonderfully with Dijon mustard, or the mustard of your choice (although I personally would skip the French’s yellow).
  • Balsamic vinegar is my go-to for salads accompanying Italian meals.
  • Rice vinegar is the natural choice for East Asian salads.
  • Lemon brings wonderful sparkle to sturdy garlic-friendly cuisines, like Middle Eastern, Greek, Spanish, and Provençal; it’s also an excellent option for North African cuisine.
  • Lime gets my vote for Caribbean, Latin American, Southeast Asian, and East and West African cuisine.
  • Classic Vinaigrette: Oil

  • Extra virgin olive oil is meant for salads—NOT FOR COOKING. It has a relatively low smoking point, meaning that the oil will start to smoke when you heat it. If you’re going to spend big bucks for EVOO, then for heck’s sake don’t screw it up by heating it. And if you’re not spending big bucks, it’s probably not REAL evoo. Here’s a good article on the sort of scam that is extra virgin olive oil.
  • Avocado oil is the next best thing.
  • Walnut oil is lovely in a fall-ish salad with walnuts.
  • Flaxseed oil doesn’t have much flavor, but it has a nice lightness to it, as does sunflower oil.
  • Oils to avoid: Peanut, canola, corn, anything generic and referred to as “vegetable oil.”

Classic Vinaigrette: Salt and Pepper

Freshly ground in both cases is lovely, and in the case of pepper, essential. If you use salt from a bigger container, always pour it into your hand first, then pinch the right amount from there. Go sparingly. With pepper, all bets are off.

Finished classic vinaigrette goes great on a simple classic tossed salad; you’ll find a recipe for two variations at this link. I usually just make a small amount fresh every night for salad, but you can definitely make a bigger batch. Just be sure to shake it up really well before each use.

Enjoy!