Whether you and vegetables are close friends or mere acquaintances, we all know that more on our plates is a good thing. I personally love Michael Pollan’s quote from the “Ominivore’s Dilema” – “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
And as a self-professed vegetable enthusiast now, full confession, I haven’t always loved vegetables. In my middle school years my sister and I would divide up the broccoli (flowers to her, stems to me), and then I would proceed to drown my designated broccoli section with ketchup. I’m sure my mother was grimacing inside, but she just wanted me to eat my veggies. And another confession, though now I’m in full adoration of vegetables of every variety, the dear cauliflower isn’t one of my favorites.
But instead of shunning cauliflower, it has always been one of my joys (yes, really) to find cauliflower recipes that I do love. And recently, cauliflower has taken the food blogging world by storm; cauliflower rice, cauliflower burgers, cauliflower everything bagels, etc. Hence, when I developed a cauliflower pizza crust that I truly enjoyed, it was a very exciting day! (My life is very exciting. Clearly.)
This crust is very versatile. You can use it as a base and add in any spices you’d like to go with the flavor of your toppings. And even though I haven’t had regular wheat pizza in a very long time, cauliflower or not, you should be able to pick up a piece of pizza. Am I right?
So, onto the toppings. I tried many variations of the butternut squash topping for this pizza until it finally dawned on me to puree it and use that as a sauce. Another exciting day for me! Using pureed butternut squash also presents a time saver as well. You can roast and puree your own or you could buy pureed canned butternut squash (from a BPA-free lined can).
I’d also like to make a plug for finding humanely raised pork for this recipe. How you spend your money is how you vote with corporations and farms. They do listen. My family made the switch years ago to buying humanely raised meat.
Hope you enjoy.
xo ~ Mandy
- 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.
- Parchment Paper – Obviously not an ingredient, but I recommend you use the unbleached variety of parchment paper. Bleached parchment paper when heated can/may/might leach dioxin, which you can read about here and why I advise you to avoid it. There are several brands of unbleached parchment paper which are available at your local grocery store or on Amazon. I use the If You Care brand.
- PIZZA CRUST
- 1½ lb cauliflower (about 1 medium-sized head), roughly chopped (OR 4 cups of pre-made cauliflower rice)
- ½ cup almond flour
- 2 eggs
- 1½ teaspoons paprika
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¾ teaspoon sea or himalayan salt
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- ½ lb mild italian pork sausage, casing removed and broken into small pieces *
- 1 lb butternut squash, halved and seeds removed (or 1 15 oz can of pureed butternut squash) **
- ¼ teaspoon sea or himalayan salt
- ½ red onion, peeled and sliced into thin wedges
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- Pinch or two of red pepper flakes for topping
- CRUST & SQUASH
- Preheat the oven to 400. Make sure you have two racks ready in your oven.
- Prepare the butternut squash for roasting by placing it face down (halved lengthwise and seeds removed) on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Place cauliflower chunks in a food processor. Blend the cauliflower until the pieces are the size of rice grains.
- Using a nut bag, a clean dish towel, 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, paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt in the food processor and mix until well combined. Then add the cauliflower back in and mix until well combined.
- Cover another baking sheet with parchment paper (this is very important) and spread the cauliflower batter out evenly with a spoon. The batter should be about ¼ 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 both the crust and the squash in the oven and bake for 30 min.
- After 30 minutes, carefully flip the crust - I place an additional baking sheet over the crust, hold two baking sheets together, and then quickly flip them so the crust lands on the new baking sheet. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Squash will continue to bake the additional 10 minutes with the crust.
- Remove the crust and set aside to cool.
- Make sure the squash can easily be pierced by a fork. If not, cook for an additional 10 minutes (cooking times will depend on the size of the squash). Once cooked, scoop out the butternut squash flesh and place it in a blender with ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅓ cup water and blend until smooth. You may need to add a little more water to get blades to turn through the squash. Add A LITTLE (a tablespoon) at a time. You want the sauce to be thick, NOT runny.
- In a medium skillet over low-medium heat, warm the coconut oil and add the red onions. Saute the onions for about 10 minutes, or until tender.
- When the onions are tender, add the italian sausage and saute until there are no more pink parts in the sausage, about 5-7 minutes.
- You can add the spinach to the skillet to wilt OR add the spinach to the pizza raw.
- Spread about 1 cup of butternut squash puree on top of the pizza, followed by the spinach (if using raw), and then the sausage and onion mixture. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and serve warm.
- If the pizza has cooled, simply warm it up for a few minutes in the oven.
** This will provide you with extra butternut squash puree. You can freeze the extra to use on a second pizza at a later time or use in a butternut squash pureed soup. Canned butternut squash won't have nearly as much flavor as roasting (it tastes rather flat), but it can be used in a pinch!