We all have our own local phenomenons, am I right? There’s a Minnesota springtime phenomenon that involves shorts and flip-flops. Whether it’s February or April, when the thermometer starts climbing toward the high 40’s, with snow still on the ground and freezing temperatures at night, you can go anywhere in Minnesota and see a hearty soul walking about in flip-flops and shorts. If they are actually feeling cold, I’m not sure. Their faces say otherwise, exuding bliss as if to say, “Do you know how good it feels to have fresh air between my toes?!” (Totally the same as feeling sand between your toes. Totally.) And when the temperature moves just a few degrees higher, to the low 50’s, suddenly all the Minneapolis and St. Paul downtown eating establishments bring their tables out to the streets and folks happily eat in the open air. Now, of course, anyone from a warmer climate would think this is just crrraaazzzy. Parkas are required until about 60 degrees, right? But it’s all just a matter of perspective.
And that brings me to cauliflower crust (odd segue huh?). Even if you are on a gluten-free diet, perhaps you have thought, “Why would I want to eat pizza with cauliflower crust?” And, really, I get it. Traditional pizza crust is amazing. It is. Cauliflower crust cannot replicate a traditional crust, but it can be a flavorful and nutritious base to your pizza pie. It’s all a matter of perspective.
The crust is made from cauliflower, almond flour, and a few spices. I really do enjoy the taste and I also enjoy that it doesn’t fall apart when I pick it up! It’s a pizza for goodness sake, I should be able to pick up the crust. An the toppings – wow. My Italian heart literally swoons over the combination of kale, prosciutto, caramelized red onion, artichokes, kalamata olives and fresh basil.
If you don’t think your kids will go for prosciutto and kale, double the crust recipe and make a “sophisticated” adult pizza (the included recipe) and a kid pizza. Invite your kids to layer up their crust with toppings of their choosing – sugar-free organic marinara sauce, uncured pepperoni, organic cheese, etc. Or something totally off the “norm”!
Also, if you have kids, there are many ways to get them involved in making this meal. Have them push buttons on the food processor, squeeze the water from the chopped up cauliflower “rice”, or place the toppings.
I hope this pizza makes its way into your home soon!
- Artichokes – The book “Eating on the Wild Side“ is a wonderful resource for learning how to choose, store, and prepare your food for optimal nutrients. According to author, canned artichokes are still wonderfully high in antioxidants. I always buy artichokes in water stored in a glass jar or a can with BPA-free lining. Artichokes sold in olive oil taste wonderful, but olive oil is not a stable oil and can turn rancid easily (especially if stored in clear glass containers), which creates free radicals. In addition, the origin of the olive oil is not typically available to the consumer.
- Cauliflower – Look for cauliflower heads without any brown spots on the “curds” (the florets). They are harmless, but are signs of oxidation and decay. You want the freshest cauliflower possible to get the most nutrients from the plant. If you can only find ones with the brown spots, cut them off before cooking the cauliflower.
- Tomatoes – Choose either fresh tomatoes or tomatoes sold in glass jars if possible. Tomato’s natural acidity causes BPA to leach from the lining in the cans into the food.
Prosciutto and Kale Pizza with Cauliflower Crust
- 1 lb - 1 1/2 lb cauliflower ~ about 1 medium head OR 4 cups of pre-made cauliflower rice, roughly chopped
- 2 eggs pasture-raised if possible *
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried chives
- 3/4 teaspoon sea or himalayan salt
- TOPPINGS - Rough Estimates on Quantities**
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/4 red onion sliced into small wedges
- 3/4 cup pureed tomatoes ***
- 1 - 2 leaves green leafy kale shredded
- 2 oz uncured prosciutto roughly chopped (organic if possible)
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives halved
- 1/3 cup artichoke hearts cut into thin wedges
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh basil julienne
Preheat the oven to 400
Roughly chop the cauliflower head and place the pieces in a food processor. Blend the cauliflower until the pieces look like rice.
Using a nut bag or a metal mesh strainer, squeeze as much liquid out of the cauliflower as you can. This is very important. Getting the moisture out now will keep the crust from having a mushy texture.
Place the eggs, almond flour, basil, chives, and salt in the food processor and mix until well combined. Then add the cauliflower back in and mix until well combined.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper (IMPORTANT) and spread cauliflower batter out evenly. Batter should be about 1/4 inch thick throughout. Try to keep crust as even as possible. If it's too thin, you won't be able to pick it up.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 min.
After the first 30 minutes, carefully flip the crust - I place an additional baking sheet over the crust, hold the two baking sheets together, and then quickly flip them so the crust lands on the new baking sheet. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
While the crust is baking, prepare all of the toppings. In a medium skillet over low-medium heat, warm the coconut oil and add the red onions. Sweat (saute or cook on lower heat) the onions for 10 minutes, or until tender.
Add the kale and cook until the kale is wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
When the crust is ready, spread the tomato sauce on it first followed by the rest of the toppings as desired.
Recipe Notes* If egg-free, substitute 3 tablespoons of ground chia seeds (grind in coffee grinder) mixed with 6 tablespoons of cold water. You'll want to mix the chia seeds and water together and allow them to sit for at least 10 minutes before mixing them in with the drained cauliflower rice.
** The amount of toppings on a pizza is very much a personal preference. The amounts designated here are very rough guidelines. Have fun making it your own!
*** Marinara sauces are an easy topping for pizzas, but I chose to use pureed tomatoes here as not to add any additional spices.