I don't believe in ruling out any foods. As soon as you do that, in my experience, you are bound to think of nothing but forbidden delicacies all day long, until you inevitably crack and eat whatever you swore you wouldn't on the kitchen floor at 3 o'clock in the morning. Rather, I like to make a practice of eating healthfully most of the time so that when I'm invited to a 9-course pasta dinner, or a donut shop opening, or, more likely these days, a wedding cake tasting, I can freely partake without any guilt. An 85% virutous/15% decadent rule tends to work well for me.
The key to staving off cravings when it's not quite time to indulge in that 15%, I have found, is to replicate white, starchy, not-so-good-for-you foods with the king of vegetables, cauliflower. So far, I've done this with tortillas, rice, a pizza like this one, and even my beloved Brown Butter Pumpkin Mac & Cheese. These dishes knock out cravings (I've even begun to develop cravings for the cauliflower versions of my favorite starchy carbs), and keep you satisfied with plenty of fiber, thanks to their vegetable base. Of all the knock-off white carb cauliflower recipes in my arsenal, this is my favorite, and the one I make most often (generally at least once a week).
It starts with about half a cauliflower, cut into florets. I puree it in the food processor until it resembles ricotta cheese, and each piece is about the size of couscous (check out my tip in the recipe for how to deal with cauliflower that just doesn't want to be processed correctly).
The cauliflower gets microwaved until it is very soft, then dumped onto a clean dish towel.
Then I gather up the corners of the towel to make a bundle, and carefully squeeze as much liquid as possible from the cooked cauliflower. The drier the better. It's important to be really careful here, as the cauliflower may be quite hot to the touch, even through the towel.
The squeezed-out cauliflower goes into a mixing bowl with a beaten egg, some olive oil, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. You can use other cheeses, but I find that Parmesan yields the crispest crust. If you are avoiding dairy, try a mix of almond or coconut flour and nutritional yeast in place of the Parmesan.
I scrape the "batter" onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (do NOT skip this part--an oiled or floured surface will not work; parchment is essential).
With wet hands (very helpful in keeping the cauliflower mixture from sticking), I pat the mixture into a circle (you could probably do any shape you want), about 1/4-inch thick. I top it with a drizzle of olive oil, which helps get it nice and golden brown.
Into the oven it goes, until it's brown and crisp. This is very important. If you take it out too early, it will make for limp pizza.
If you think you can fip it by hand, go for it. I don't trust my hand-eye coordination enough to do that, so I top it with a second piece of parchment and carefully turn it over.
Then I carefully peel the now-on-top layer of parchment off (save it for the next time you want to make this pizza--you can usually get 2 or 3 uses out of each piece of parchment).
And here is my pizza base!
Now it's time for toppings. I recommend going light, so as not to overload the crust with toppings it can't adequately hold. I usually just do sauce and cheese--maybe some sauteed greens or caramelized onions now and then.
Start with sauce all over, leaving a 1-inch border for the crust. Here I'm using some leftover romesco sauce, but this is great with pesto, tomato sauce, or even just a little olive oil and garlic.
And since this is pizza, I top it with shredded mozzarella cheese and a light touch of Parmesan (feel free to experiment with other cheeses though--I've used cheddar or dollops of ricotta and goat cheese in place of the mozzarella). Again, don't overload it. A single layer will suffice.
Bake until brown and bubbly.
Check out that bottom crust. So crisp.
I add a smattering of fresh herbs and maybe some red chili flakes, and I'm ready to slice.
It's pizza time.
Say hello to your new favorite.
- 1/2 large cauliflower, cut into florets $4 for a whole cauliflower
- 1 egg, lightly beaten $2.50 for 6
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Pantry
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for topping the pizza $3.50 for 12 ounces
- pinch of salt Pantry
- 1/4 cup sauce of your choice (tomato, pesto, romesco, etc) $2.50
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese $3.50 for 8 ounces
- fresh herbs, Optional
- red chili flakes, Optional
Recipe Serves 2-3
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the cauliflower in a food processor and puree until it resembles ricotta cheese and each grain is about the size of couscous. Tip: If you can't seem to get the right consistency, or if a few whole florets remain after pureeing, try adding enough water to cover (usually about 2 cups) and puree as if you are making soup. When all the cauliflower has been completely processed, strain it in a fine-mesh strainer.
- Scrape the cauliflower into a heat-proof bowl and microwave it on High for 5 minutes.
- Carefully scrape the microwaved cauliflower purée onto a clean dish towel.
- Very carefully (using a second towel if necessary to protect your hands) squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Get it as dry as you possibly can.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower, egg, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, Parmesan, and salt.
- Mix together to make a thick batter.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Scrape the batter into the center of it. Gather the batter into a ball shape.
- Wet your hands and carefully pat the batter into a circle, making it as thin as possible.
- Drizzle the cauliflower circle with second tablespoon of olive oil and use your hand or a pastry brush to spread it all over the circle.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and a little crisp.
- Remove the crust from the oven, but leave the oven on.
- Place a piece of parchment paper over the top of the cooked crust.
- Carefully flip the whole thing so the bottom is facing up.
- Remove the top layer parchment (which was previously the bottom layer).
- Top your pizza with sauce, cheese, and anything else you like (I encourage you to go light on the toppings--the crust is sturdy but not as sturdy as conventional pizza crust).
- Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
- Slice and serve.