Paleo Cauliflower Pizza Crust with Sweet Potato

Grain-Free Cauliflower Sweet Potato CrustThis grain-free pizza crust recipe is cauliflower-based with some sweet potato, which lends a slight sweetness and softness to each bite. Almond meal replaces grain flour and flax-seed gel serves as a binder. The result is a delicious grain-free pizza with slices you can pick up without it falling into pieces…unlike several of the recipes I tried.

A crust without flour is simple, but requires a little more attention to detail. First, it is necessary to squeeze the excess water out of the steamed cauliflower to avoid a dreaded soggy crust. Cutting or breaking the florets into the smaller, bite-size pieces will ease this process. Only the cauliflower needs wringing, but if you find it easier to drop everything into the towel, including the sweet potato, that will work as well. Don’t worry about getting the last drop, but put a little muscle into it!

Next, if you want to eat the pizza by the slice -with your hands, instead of scraping it off the pan with a fork (this has happened) you will need to flip the pizza half-way through the cooking process. I thought this seemed like a bigger hassle than it really is. Simply make sure you have your second sheet of parchment paper and a cutting board (at least the size of the baking pan) ready to go. Pull the pan out of the oven, place the second piece of parchment over the crust, place the cutting board on the top, then flip it, slide the parchment and crust back to the pan and place it back in the oven. You’re good to go.

Finally, if you want your crust to be a perfect circle fitting perfectly on your baking sheet, one pound (before steaming) of combined vegetables seems to be about the right quantity. And, to eliminate the guess-work about crust size, I recommend placing your first piece of parchment paper into your baking sheet, then making crease marks at the edges to use as a guide when spreading the ‘dough’.

GRAIN-FREE CAULIFLOWER SWEET POTATO PIZZA CRUST

Inspired by Michelle Babb, MS, RD, CD
Yield: One 10-inch pizza (2-4 servings)

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

  • Food processor or high-speed blender
  • Sauce pan and steamer basket
  • Baking sheet
  • Cutting board
  • 2 pieces of parchment paper, size of the baking sheet

Grain Free Vegan Cauliflower Sweet Potato Crust

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 medium head cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets (up to 4 cups).
  • 1/2 medium sweet potato, unpeeled and diced into 1/4 inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • 3 tablespoons whole flax seeds, freshly ground
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon dried italian herbs or oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided (some for the crust and some for the vegetables)
  • 3 tablespoon coconut or olive oil for greasing the baking sheet and sautéing vegetables
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 cup thinly sliced shiitake (or cremini) mushrooms, 4-6
  • 1/3-1/2 pesto (regular or dairy-free)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (optional)

CAULIFLOWER AND SWEET POTATO CRUST DIRECTIONS:

Flax Egg Mixture

  1. Preheat oven to 400º F.
  2. Place your baking sheet in the oven.
  3. Combine the water and ground flax-seed. Stir intermittently until it forms a gel, about the time it takes to steam the vegetables.
  4. Place a steamer basket inside of a saucepan or stock pot with a few inches of water.
  5. Place chopped sweet potato and cauliflower florets into the steamer.
  6. Steam vegetables until both are easily pierced with a fork, about 12 minutes.
  7. Wrap the cauliflower into a tea towel, twist it and press firmly to wring out as much of the excess water as you can.
  8. Transfer the steamed vegetables to a food processor or high-speed blender.
  9. Add the flax gel, almond meal, Italian herbs, 1/2 teaspoon of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Blend until smooth. The ‘dough’ will not be like regular pizza dough. It will be fairly wet.
  10. Lightly grease one piece of parchment paper. Transfer the cauliflower mixture to the center of the paper. Using a rubber spatula, spread the dough out from the center until it is evenly about 1/8th inch thick, but no less.
  11. Remove the baking pan from the oven.
  12. Transfer the crust and parchment paper to the baking pan.
  13. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  14. While the crust bakes, sauté vegetables toppings (see Vegetable Directions below)
  15. After 20 minutes. remove the pan from the oven. Place the other piece of parchment paper on top of the crust. Placing a cutting board on top, flip the crust, then slide the crust back to the baking sheet.
  16. Bake for another 20 minutes, until the top appears dry and slightly toasted.
  17. Remove the pan from the oven. If possible, slide the crust and parchment paper to a cooling rack. Let the crust rest for at least 5 minutes to release steam.
  18. Assemble the pizza per below, or as desired.

Pizza Vegetables

VEGETABLE DIRECTIONS AND PIZZA ASSEMBLY:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and sprinkle lightly with some of the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  3. Saute until softened, between 2-4 minutes.
  4. Remove the onions from pan and set aside.
  5. Add the remaining oil to the pan and allow it to heat up.
  6. Add mushrooms to the pan and sprinkle lightly with some of the remaining salt and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until soft and slightly browned.
  7. Spread the pesto evenly over the pizza crust.
  8. Spread the sautéed onions, then the mushrooms and red chili peppers (optional) over the pizza crust.
  9. If topping the pizza with cheese, turn on the broiler and place the crust under the broiler for 2 minutes or until the cheese melts. Otherwise, place back into the 400º to rewarm for 5 minutes.
  10. Slice and serve!

Grain-Free Cauliflower Sweet Potato Slices

 

 

NUTRITION NOTE – GETTING THE MOST FROM YOUR CAULIFLOWER:

To get the full nutritional benefits of cauliflower, chop it up at least 40 minutes before cooking. This is enough time for the chemical reaction to take place which produces sulforophane, the compound most responsible for cauliflower’s health benefits. This reaction won’t happen if the cauliflower is heated immediately after being broken apart by hand or cut by knife.

More: How Get the Benefits of Raw Cruciferous Vegetables – When Cooked!

Have you tried cauliflower pizza crusts? Willing to try this one? Please leave a comment below!

Cauliflower Sweet Potato Pizza Crust

Cauliflower-Yam Pizza Crust

Pectin makes cauliflower quite the chameleon, disguising itself as ‘mashed potatoes’, ‘rice’ or even ‘steaks’. But, when I kept reading about cauliflower pizza crust, my reaction was ‘I don’t think so’. That is, until I read friend and colleague, Michelle Babb’s version in Anti-Inflammatory Eating Made Easy’. Trying this recipe set me on a quest to find the ultimate cauliflower crust. If you are curious, skeptical or intrigued about cauliflower pizza crusts, let me save you a lot of time. This is the best one I’ve tried yet. But, stay tuned as I’m on a mission to find a cauliflower pizza crust recipe for a variety of dietary preferences. Let it be said. Let it be done.  Continue reading

‘The Vegetarian Flavor Bible’ Giveaway for National Nutrition Month

TVFBWelcome to the virtual book tour for THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE, by Karen Page. I am proud to take part in this event, which celebrates Registered Dietitians and National Nutrition Month. Keep reading to find out how you can win a copy of Karen’s latest masterpiece!

Don’t be fooled by the title. This is not a book solely for vegetarians. This is a book for anyone who wants to enjoy a greater range of plant-based whole foods, anyone who wants to improve their health, anyone who tends to go “improv” in the kitchen. It is for anyone tired of the same salad or steamed vegetables. Continue reading

Bagna Cauda Roasted Cauliflower

Bagna Cauda Roasted Cauliflower

This Bagna Cauda Roasted Cauliflower recipe was inspired by my Nonna. It was she who introduced me to Bagna Càuda, a traditional Italian warm dipping sauce made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil and butter. Translated literally as ‘hot bath, the dish is typically eaten during the autumn and winter months, served hot in a communally with raw, boiled or roasted vegetables.

She prepared Bagna Càuda in her electric skillet for family gatherings. As the butter melted into the olive oil, the garlic would soften and the warm pool would eventually dissolve the anchovies and transform into a heady, salty and nutty sauce of umami goodness. The aroma was as unique to me as it was captivating. I knew I was smelling ‘the Old World’ before I even knew what that phrase meant.

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Vegan Curried Cauliflower Soup

Curried Cauliflower SoupCurried Cauliflower Soup was the last thing on my mind when she started talking. But, I soon became riveted, with recipe inspirations running rampant. In fact, she had me at ‘vegetables’.

The setting was the Q & A session following the opening of the 2014 International Food Blogger’s Conference in Seattle. An attendee asked the keynote speakers, James Beard Award-Winning authors, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg what they thought would be the hottest new trend in food. In the spirit of ‘everything old is new again’, Karen declared simply, ‘vegetables!’ She then went on to discuss her latest book ‘The Vegetarian Flavor Bible’.

I was already a fan of their previous book, “The Flavor Bible,” a book which could not be named more appropriately. It is not a cookbook. There are no recipes. Rather, it is an invaluable compendium of alphabetical listings of foods that are paired together. Perfect for free-form cooks, those of us who like guides more than recipes.

After purchasing it, the book quickly became indispensable. It was like an old friend I could ask for ideas when pondering how to made a dish more distinct, or even where to begin. So, when I saw the dynamic duo in the hotel lobby during a conference break, I made a bee-line to them. I stood a bit star-struck among a small group chatting with them. As they had recently become vegetarians, my work as a nutritionist gave us common ground for an albeit short, but rewarding conversation. I then trailed off from the group satisfied.

Fast forward two months and three thousand miles away to New York City. I discover that Barns & Noble was hosting a “Flavor Bible” book signing with Karen and Andrew moderating a panel of chefs discussing vegetarian cuisine. When I approached them to get my book signed, imagine my surprise, shock really, that they remembered me! These two are really something special. They were so kind and sincere to all the panelists, so grateful for the leadership they had shown in vegetarian cuisine and such gratitude to their supporters. My only regret about the event is never downloading my book signing photo with them off their website! I can’t find it now.

Back home with my “Flavor Bible(s)”, the original and the vegetarian version, I set to work improv-style in the kitchen. The result is this simple curried cauliflower soup recipe. My intention was to create something very flavorful and nutritious, with enough fat and protein to make it somewhat hearty. Want to take the comfort food factor up a notch? Simply add  extra cashew cream. You can also add more garbanzo beans for more protein and heartiness.

I have tried roasting the cauliflower first. But, I didn’t notice enough difference to merit the effort. But, it simply might be that any subtle flavor doesn’t really stand up to the garam masala, a great addition if you like your curry a little on the hot side. Omit it if you don’t.

To get the most health benefits from this soup, use fresh cauliflower, not frozen. Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. Then, let sit for about 40 minutes before cooking, one of the strategies outlined in a prior post about gaining the benefits of raw crucifers even when cooked. This recipe also supports improved bioavailaiblity of the curcumin in the curry powder, as detailed in another prior post.

CURRIED CAULIFLOWER SOUP

Serves 6-8.

Curried Cauliflower Soup Ingredients

CURRIED CAULIFLOWER SOUP INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup almond or rice milk
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (optional)
  • 1 medium head cauliflower (or one 16 ounce bag, frozen)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups (1 15 oz can) organic coconut milk
  • 1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 cup chickpea croutons for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cover raw cashews with filtered water and let sit refrigerated for at least 45 minutes. Then, drain off the water, add the almond or rice milk and blend until smooth.

  2. Heat the coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and salt. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Then add the curry powder and garam masala (if using) and stir to cover the onions and garlic thoroughly.

  3. Add the chopped cauliflower, then cover with the broth and bring to a simmer. Let cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 10 minutes.

  4. Remove from the heat and add the garbanzo beans and coconut milk.

  5. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup, or process in blender in batches.

  6. Stir in the lime juice, adjust salt, if needed, and serve warm topped with chickpea croutons.

Lemony Garlic Cauliflower Mash

 

Lemony Garlic Cauliflower MashTemperatures are atypically hovering around 70 degrees. While I’m ready for fall, I’m not quite ready for my favorite fall recipes such as cauliflower mash, aka faux mashed potatoes -a quintessential comfort food fake.

But, cauliflower is in season -now! As a member of the brassica family, cauliflower is a true ‘super food’. While over-used, cauliflower is actually worthy of this term. Rich in sulforaphane, indoles and isothiocyanates, cauliflower supports multiple body systems; detoxification, antioxidant, and the inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system [1].

Cauliflower is also high in vitamin C, with one serving providing 77% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C [2].  It is also high in fiber, and pretty much all the nutrients as it’s more popular and colorful cousin, broccoli. That is, of course, except chlorophyl. But, cauliflower has an edge over broccoli inside its cell walls, pectin. Just as pectin in apples provides thickening and gelling properties to applesauce, the pectin in cauliflower makes it creamy when cooked.

I love this recipe for its seasonal-neutral contrast of light citrus and subtle heat from the pepper flakes. The recipe is simple and quick to prepare, can be served warm or at room temperature and the texture is the same the next day. You can enjoy this and other cauliflower mash recipes year-round as the preparation works equally well with fresh or frozen cauliflower. However, keep in mind that while still nutritious, commercially packaged frozen cruciferous vegetables may lose many of the health benefits found in their fresh counterparts [3].

Lemony Garlic Cauliflower Mash Ingredients

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 head fresh cauliflower, chopped into florets (or 1 pound frozen)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, olive oil or butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 head roasted garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon organic lemon zest (optional)
  • A few tablespoons coconut, almond or rice milk, if desired for texture

Steaming Cauliflower

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place chopped cauliflower into a steamer insert inside of a saucepan or stock pot with an inch or two of water.
  2. Cover and steam until very soft when pierced with a fork. For fresh cauliflower, this will take 10-12 minutes. Frozen cauliflower will take less time.
  3. Remove the cauliflower from the heat.
  4. Allow the cauliflower to rest in the steamer for another five minutes.
  5. Transfer steamed cauliflower into a food processor or blender.
  6. Add all other ingredients, except the zest to the blender and process until smooth.
  7. Add rice or almond milk, if needed for a smooth texture.
  8. Readjust seasoning to taste, if needed. 
  9. Top with lemon zest and serve.

REFERENCES:

[1] Nation Cancer Institute
[
2] World’s Healthiest Foods, Cauliflower
[
3] nutritionfacts.org – Video

What are your favorite ways to prepare cauliflower? Let me know!

Mashed Cauliflower

Mashed Cauliflower

Cauliflower disguised as mashed potatoes – in appearance, texture and taste? It’s true! Cauliflower is a demure member of the Brassica vegetable family, overshadowed by its more vibrantly colored cousins, broccoli and cabbage.  But, cauliflower’s neutrality is what  make it a culinary chameleon with a secret weapon; pectin. You would never guess it from chewing on a raw floret, but when cooked, it releases pectin, the same substance which transforms crisp, raw apples into a yummy viscous treat when cooked. Without pectin there would be no applesauce, just apple chunks. Suspend your disbelief!

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