Updated: Aug 22, 2020
I am four weeks' out from a fitness competition. So naturally, I decided to make pizza.
This pizza won't break my diet. And it's not a 'flexible' meal of empty calories to make up my macros for the day after eating like a rabbit. In fact, it's full of nutrients and I felt excellent after this meal. No bloated belly or indigestion. Your body will thank you for this pizza.
And it's delicious. Lots of taste, plenty of rich sauce and melted cheese. This is not a bland, dry 'health food' copy of pizza. Pizza is one of my favourite foods. I wouldn't share this recipe unless it was just as tasty as the real deal.
So what's in the base, if not wheat?
You guessed it - cauliflower.
This humble cruciferous vegetable has become a favourite of the health conscious, fitness fanatics and foodies alike. You can find it roasted, pureed or (my favourite) processed into the infamous 'cauli rice' at most cafes, restaurants and stores nowadays.
But don't be fooled, this is no fad. Cauliflower is an incredibly versatile vegetable that earns its spot as the star of a meal. While it's relatively plain boiled or steamed, it can be cooked in many different ways to absorb flavour and complement a protein rich meal.
And it makes one decent pizza base too, light and fluffy.
A disclaimer - this is a work in progress. While I promise that this recipe is delicious and the base tastes fantastic, the base didn't quite hold in slices. The slices were a bit floppy, but not crumbly. It's excellent if you slice it and eat it with a knife and fork, but it tends to fall apart if picked up. I'll keep you updated on my attempts to perfect it!
This recipe requires a little time in the kitchen, so start your favourite podcast and set aside an hour to an hour and a half to relax and enjoy.
You'll need a food processor to pulse the cauliflower into fine 'snow' like bits. This is a handy tool to have because you can also make cauli rice in a flash.
Cauli crust mushroom and melted cheddar pizza
A delicious, grain-free cauliflower base pizza that's rich in healthy fats and protein and low in carbs for a guilt-free meal that doesn't skimp on taste
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes one medium pizza (25 cm diameter)
1 small to medium sized head of cauliflower (use about 3 cups of cauli 'snow' once processed)
1 cup water, boiled
1/2 tsp quality salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup cheese, grated* (for base)
Home made pizza sauce (see recipe below!)
4 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cheese (to sprinkle on top!)
* I used cheddar, but choose a blend of quality Parmesan (1/4 cup) and mozzarella (1/4 cup) if available.
Place the pizza stone in the oven and preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius (base heat and no fan is best).**
Chop the cauliflower into florets. Pulse in a food processor for about 20 seconds, until the cauliflower blends into fine 'snow'. Use 3 cups of cauli snow for the base.
Place the 3 cups of cauli snow in a medium pot and add 1 cup of boiled water. Bring to the boil on the stove on a medium heat. Cover and simmer for 4 minutes, and then turn off the heat and let it sit for 2 minutes.
Use a sieve to strain the cauli snow of all water. Let it cool for 5 minutes.
Use a flat spoon (or similar) to squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the cauli snow. This step is important. You want to create a light and fluffy pizza crust, not a crumbly and soggy mess.
Put the cauli snow in a bowl. Add the cheese, salt, basil, oregano, garlic and egg. Stir to combine. (FYI - at this stage, it already tastes pretty good!)
Use your hands to shape the cauli mix into a crust on a sheet of baking paper. Press it so that it's nice and tightly formed and not too thick or thin.
Use a chopping board to slide under the base on the baking paper. Transfer the base and the baking paper on to the hot pizza stone.
Bake the base for 20 minutes, or until it starts to turn golden brown. Judge this based on how it looks rather than time. You want the edges to start to crisp and the base to be golden in colour, but you don't want to over-cook it because then the base may burn when you cook it again after adding the toppings.
Add pizza sauce, toppings and cheese to suit your tastes. Let loose your creative side! If you're keen, I used a home made pizza sauce, mushroom, red onion and cheese. Here's how I did it - I used 2/3 of the sauce to coat the base, then added the mushrooms and onion, and finally added the rest of the sauce and the cheese on top.
Bake topped pizza in oven for 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly and golden.
Be patient! Allow the pizza to cool for 2 minutes.
Slice and enjoy!
** If you have one, use a pizza stone to bake the pizza. This helps to create a crispy base that is less likely to burn.
Homemade tomato and thyme pizza sauce
1 tsp butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 400 g can tinned tomatoes (or passata)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 tsp quality salt
Heat the butter in a pot on the stove on a medium heat.
Add the diced onion and garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and the oregano, thyme and salt. Stir to combine.
Once the sauce starts to bubble, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for at least 15 minutes, until thick.
Use it immediately to top the pizza crust, or store it in the fridge for later.
Start to cook the sauce first. This way, it can simmer away while you prepare the crust.
Store the extra cauli 'snow' for use later to make cauli rice.
This recipe creates endless possibilities for healthy pizza. You could try all different kinds of cheeses, meats and vegetables for your topping. For example, try bacon and salami, or chicken and avocado. Be warned - the more you put on top, the less likely that you'll be able to pick it up! But no doubt it will be all the more delicious.
Mix and match ingredients to find your favourite flavours. If you add meats, cheeses or other healthy fats like olives, avocado or egg, you can easily adjust your portion to fit your macro and caloric needs for the meal. Or, enjoy as much as you like for a nutritious treat!