Don’t you just LOVE a cheesy, ooey-gooey slice of pizza? It’s quite possibly the #1 food I can confidently say that I will never tire of. When I decided to go Paleo, I was a little more than bummed about the prospect of not being able to have a piece of melty nirvana anymore, thanks to the carb-filled crust and cheesy goodness that crowns it. Strict Paleo followers cannot have any dairy whatsoever, and while I now stay away from nearly all milk-based products, I do still allow myself to have cheese every now and again. And fortunately, my body seems to be okay with this arrangement! :) So I started hunting for a way to make a Paleo-friendly version of my favorite past time that nixed the carby crust. Enter the many ways to use cauliflower, my new favorite vegetable! As it turns out, if you can rice it, you can make pizza crust out of it!
My current food processor is a tiny little 3-cupper, so I had to rice my cauliflower in small batches, but it only set me back a few extra minutes. Not bad. Here’s where this recipe gets sticky for non-dairy Paleo followers: you have to mix the caulirice with Parmesan cheese because this type of cheese has a helpful little habit of hardening after it melts and cools. A lack of any cheese at all would unfortunately provide a major structural roadblock for non-dairy folks trying out this recipe. I just can’t imagine it sticking together, or getting even remotely crispy. I suppose you could try substituting Daiya Mozzarella Shreds, but I can’t say for certain whether or not the crust would harden up enough after melting to withstand the weight of sauce and toppings. If anyone tries that and it works, let me know! A properly melted and crusty-around-the-edges pizza crust should be slightly browned out of the oven.
The crusts are sturdy enough that they hold together with no problem, although I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was “crusty” all the way through to the middle. On the bottom it was crusty, yes, but the inside thickness, if you will, left a little to be desired. This is primarily due to the caulirice being capable of holding so much dang moisture! But you know what?? Despite this, it still tasted absolutely delicious!
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the turnout of these little personal-sized pizza crusts. They did not taste like cauliflower at all, by which I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, I thought they achieved the flavor profile of a pizza crust quite well! They also managed to hold up all of my toppings and sauce without falling apart, as do some of the other recipes I’ve seen – heck, I was even able to cut it into little mini pizza slices that were easily lifted into the air and bitten into, which made my heart sing! :) No forks required here!
Next time I make these, I plan to tackle the moisture issue: I may flatten them just a little bit more, and I will try NOT steaming the caulirice at all to see how that affects the final product. I will also cook the crusts directly on a pizza stone, to see if that helps crisp them up even more. Consider this one a work-in-progress and, if I get better results next time, I’ll be sure to update my method here. As it is, though, I’m positive that you will still find a little slice of heaven in this recipe!
**UPDATE 7/31 –> NO-STEAM version: rice the cauliflower but don’t steam it, use 3 eggs to compensate for the loss of moisture in the dough, and bake the crust for 17 minutes (first round of baking)… turns out just as wonderful, and with less steps!
- ½ head of cauliflower (approx. 2 cups 'riced')
- 2½ cups + 2 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp coconut flour
- 3-4 medium fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (for brushing on top of 'dough')
- Garlic salt to taste (for sprinkling on top of 'dough')
- 2-3 tbsp organic tomato sauce (per pizza)
- Toppings of choice
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Remove stems and leaves from cauliflower, trim into little florets, and chop in food processor until the consistency of rice/couscous.
- Place caulirice in a steamer, atop a pot filled with about an inch of water. Don't let the caulirice touch the water, they will be moist enough on their own! Let steam for a few minutes, just until tender.
- While the caulirice is steaming, add your parmesan shreds, egg, garlic, sea salt, and basil to a large bowl.
- Remove the caulirice from the steamer. Put into a fine-mesh colander lined with a clean dish towel. Allow the caulirice to cool for several minutes, then gather up the ends of the dish towel to squeeze out as much of the excess water from the caulirice as you can (or use a nut milk bag, if you have one).
- Add the caulirice to the large bowl with the other ingredients. Add in your coconut flour, and then evenly mix everything together with a spatula.
- Divide your "dough" mixture into 2 lumps on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Using your hands, flatten each dough lump into its own 8-inch diameter circular crust (will be about ½" thick).
- Brush the dough crusts with a light layer of olive oil, and sprinkle with garlic salt to taste.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.
- Take the crusts out of oven and let them cool down a bit. Discard parchment paper.
- Top with a few tablespoons of organic tomato sauce and your chosen toppings (assemble them right on baking sheet, or transfer to a pizza stone).
- Turn your oven up to "Broil" and bake the pizzas for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
**UPDATE 7/31 --> NO-STEAM version: rice the cauliflower but don't steam it, use 3 eggs to compensate for the loss of moisture in the dough, and bake the crust for 17 minutes (first round of baking).
Recipe adapted from Against All Grain
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