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

Deviled Eggs

I’m old enough to have grown up with Easter egg hunts that were 80% dyed hard-boiled eggs. Even though I was a notoriously picky child, I liked hard-boiled eggs. But the vast quantities that resulted from Easter egg hunting daunted even me. Many a hard-boiled egg ended up in the garbage simply because, even with a family of 7, we just plain got sick of them. Mom, to her credit, would go beyond the plain version and into the magical territory of deviled eggs. But there were still masses of the little ovals to get through. Even Cool Hand Luke had a rough time downing 50 eggs. It seemed like my brother and I had raked in 50 apiece.

The candy/egg ratio has flipped; now, judging from the ready-made baskets I see in stores, you may not have any hard-boiled eggs at all. Should that be the case in your neck of the woods, I urge to boil up a batch. To my mind, deviled eggs represent the best possible way to use up the non-sugar portion of an Easter basket, particularly now that people have come to their senses and you don’t have to plow through a few dozen in a week. Additionally, deviled eggs are endlessly variable, as well as super easy. They make a great paleo lunch. Step by step instructions follow, or simply skip to the recipe if you desire exact ingredients and precise amounts.

Last year, I discovered the glorious practice of pickling the shelled eggs in a vinegar brine infused with a color-rich agent. Cooking Light provided this recipe for turmeric eggs, and Bon Appetit provided these visuals, which inspired the beet version. BA keeps the shells on, cracking them, for a beautiful effect.) Turmeric delivers a glorious acidic yellow. Beets create shocking pink to deep purple, depending how long you leave them in the brine. A little pureed spinach or carrot (separate, please) would give you, respectively, green or orange. I would have counseled to avoid a blue egg, because that’s just weird. But the BA one in the link above is quite beautiful in its marbled state. I’m thinking red cabbage might possibly produce a delicate purple. Experiment as you like. Do note that these eggs sat for day and a half in brine, and the dark color of the beet brine went deeper than the skin. Fine by me, but soak for the right amount of time for you.

deviled eggs, dyed in beet or turmeric brine and hollowed out prior to pickling

To make a brine, simply use 1 part cider vinegar to 2 parts water; then add the coloring agent of your choice. Once you’ve cooled the eggs, just gently lower them into the prepared brine, which you’ve poured into a glass mason jar. Close up the jar, refrigerate it, and there you go. Do be forewarned that the longer the eggs sit in the brine, the tarter they’ll become. You get the color you need after just 2-4 hours, if you don’t want a heavy vinegar bite.

deviled eggs, hard-boiled and pickled prior to deviling

An hour  or so before you want to eat your eggs, slice them lengthwise down the middle and scoop out the yolk into a bowl. The vinegar makes the whites sturdy, though not tough, just pleasantly toothy, and you can just pop the yolks out. If they’re stubborn, use a small spoon. As you can see, the back of the yolks on the beet eggs turned magenta…

deviled eggs, yolks removed and ready to devil

…while the turmeric brine wasn’t nearly as aggressive.

deviled eggs, yolks removed and ready to devil

For 4 yolks, use a tablespoon each of the mayo of your choice and something tart, like plain full-fat yogurt or sour cream. Or use 2 tablespoons of one or the other substance. You decide if you want a heaping tablespoon Add a spice that complements the color of the egg. For the turmeric ones, curry powder and cumin were naturals; if I’d had cilantro on head, I would have sprinkled it on top. Beets demanded that I steam one of the slices I’d used for pickling, then smash it and mix it in with eggs, adding horseradish, mustard, and dill, just like I would to a raw beet salad. Should you choose not to dye, mustard, paprika, chives, and parsley are classic additions.

deviled eggs, yolks in the deviling process

That’s it. For best egg serving, those deviled egg plates are awesome, but honestly kinda silly because who, seriously, will use such a thing enough to justify the purchase price? So if you have one, great, but if you don’t, an egg carton works just swell.

deviled eggs, pickled separately in turmeric and beet brines

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Deviled Eggs: The Recipe