This guest post was written by Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD. She is an award-winning health and nutrition expert with over 15 years of experience in food and nutrition media.
I have to admit that I am loving the cauliflower “rice” trend - so much so that it’s become a staple in my weekly meal planning. Cauliflower’s mild flavor pairs well with most other foods, and my favorite place to use riced or mashed cauliflower is in place of starches like rice pilafs and mashed potatoes. These swaps not only boost non-starchy veggie intake but also have fiber that can be equivalent or higher.
Now that I’ve admitted my affection for cauliflower crumbles, here’s something that may surprise you: I had never made a cauliflower crust pizza. It’s not that those pizza recipes don’t look amazing on Pinterest and Instagram. I’ve got a file with at least 12 recipes in it for some type of veggie-crusted pizza. It’s just that by the time I reach mid-afternoon, the thought of making pizza with a cauliflower crust seems more daunting of a task than I want to take on at the often-hectic dinner hour. Plus, there just seems like a lot that could go wrong with a veggie crust.
Yet, I’ve been intrigued. So when the American Heart Association asked me to pick a few recipes to try from their new cookbook Sodium-Smart Recipes, I immediately volunteered for the Summer Veggie Pizza with Cauliflower Crust before I had any time to think twice about my choice. I knew I wanted to try my hand at making a cauliflower-crust pizza so turning it into an “assignment” of sorts would actually make it happen.
The result of my impulsiveness was a surprisingly easy and quick homemade pizza dinner that everyone loved. In fact, shaping the cauliflower crumble mixture into a large crust was way easier than I expected - not to mention much easier than dealing with a yeast dough! Once baked, the crust was crispy, slightly chewy, and came easily off the pan (even with me forgetting to use parchment paper). The fresh basil, vegetable and cheese toppings were simple, but hearty and ample so my kids seemed to forget that there wasn’t any sausage or pepperoni.
In fact, I found the recipe so easy and tasty that Summer Veggie Pizza with Cauliflower Crust has become a regular in our house. I’ve used the cauliflower crust portion of the recipe to also make other pizza variations. So, if you’ve been eyeing cauliflower crust pizzas - and even if you’ve never seen one until now - this is a really good, no-stress one to try!
Here are a few of my favorite tricks for keeping things simple and delicious:
Short on time? Buy pre-crumbled or riced cauliflower instead of a cauliflower head. Look for bags of fresh cauliflower crumbles. Most bags contain approximately 4 cups which is the amount needed for the crust.
Want to change it up? The cauliflower crust is a great basic pizza crust, so change up the toppings based on what you have on hand. To do this, follow the recipe through Step 2. Then add your desired sauce and toppings, and bake as directed in Step 5 for 5 to 7 more minutes. The sodium and fat in some pizza toppings adds up quickly so see 5 Tips for a Healthier Slice to make smarter topping choices and use less healthy ones sparingly.
Pizza Variations: Here are some of the pizza variations that I’ve made using the cauliflower crust.
- Margherita - Lightly brush olive oil over baked crust in place of sauce; top with ripe tomatoes slices or halved cherry tomatoes, 2 ounces finely diced fresh, part-skim mozzarella cheese, and sliced fresh basil.
- Veggie Pesto - Lightly brush 1 tablespoon jarred or homemade pesto sauce over baked crust in place of tomato sauce; top with sautéed summer veggies and cheese specified in recipe. Remember you can also add or substitute other fresh vegetables like squash, spinach, and eggplant.
- Chicken and Spinach - Make and spread sauce as directed in recipe; top with 2 to 3 ounces chopped cooked skinless chicken breast, torn baby spinach leaves, and cheese specified in recipe.
Check Carolyn out on her Facebook page Real Food. Real Life. - Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD and on Instagram @RealFoodRealLife_RD for recipes, nutrition tips, and science based health info. Read her full bio.
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