Wishing For A Pizza As Healthy As It Is Delicious? Your Dreams Have Come True

Photo: Tess Panzer

Our chilly and dimly lit winter evenings could use something delicious to keep us satiated and satisfied. Believe it or not, during this health-crazed start to the year, pizza may be the answer. Cauliflower pizza, that is.

January, perhaps more than any other month of the year, calls for comfort food. While October through December seem to have the market cornered on all things rich and indulgent, cold, gray, and quiet January could use a little help. A month rich with resolutions needs a healthy dose of feel-good food.

While pizza certainly checks the comfort food box, it can make it onto the healthy list as well. But when you substitute a traditional pizza crust for its cauliflower alternative, you're ticking more boxes than you may have thought possible.

As opposed to a standard, white-flour pizza crust, which really offers very little nutritional value (albeit delicious), a cauliflower crust is low in carbohydrates and packed full of all the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants this cruciferous vegetable has to offer. In fact, one serving of cauliflower contains over 75 percent of your recommended daily dose of vitamin C, not to mention lots of good fiber to aid in digestion. Pizza's starting to sound like a really good idea, right?

While many cauliflower crusts claim to be a healthy alternative to the real deal, they also seem to be packed full of more cheese than most standard delivery pizzas wear on top. Sure, they're gluten free, but "healthy" may be a bit of a stretch.

This simple rendition goes easy on the cheese, without sacrificing flavor, and makes for a meal you'll feel really good about. Just because it's January doesn't mean you need to sip every meal through a straw. You can have your pizza, and eat it, too.

Cauliflower Pizza

Ingredients for crust

  1. 400g cauliflower florets
  2. ¼ cup almond meal
  3. ¼ cup Pecorino cheese, grated
  4. 2 eggs
  5. Salt and pepper

Ingredients for the toppings

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Pecorino cheese, grated*
  • 1 egg
  • Handful of arugula
  • Salt and pepper

Special equipment:

  • 9-inch cake ring
  • Food processor

Preparation

  1. In a food processor, process the cauliflower into an even crumb. Once it looks a bit like quinoa and has a fine, granular texture, turn the machine off. Alternatively, you can use a hand-grater, if you don't own a food processor.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the processed cauliflower, almond meal, and cheese, and mix well. At this point, season it to taste with salt and pepper—remember, there's a fair amount of salt in the cheese, so season gradually.
  3. Once you're happy with the level of seasoning, add in your eggs and mix well to combine.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the cake ring in the center of it. Now, scoop the cauliflower mixture into the ring and pat it out evenly. Try to give yourself a bit of a raised edge around the outside by gently pushing the mixture ever-so-slightly up the sides of the ring. This will ensure that the egg stays on the pizza when you add it later.
  5. Using a paper towel, blot any excess moisture from the pizza crust by pressing into it gently. Cauliflower contains a lot of water, and you want to get rid of some of it before you bake it.
  6. Remove the ring and bake the crust until golden around the edges, about 30 minutes.
  7. While the crust bakes, add the olive oil to a pan, over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté for one minute, then add the tomatoes and sauté until blistered and soft, about 5 minutes longer. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.
  8. Top the baked crust with the cooked tomatoes and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese, then crack the egg into the center of the pizza.
  9. Set the oven to broil and bake the pizza for a further 6 minutes or so, until the egg white is set but the yolk is still runny.
  10. Finally, top the pizza with the arugula, and drizzle it with a finishing touch of olive oil.

*Real Pecorino cheese is made from sheep's milk, which I find easier to digest than cow's milk. If lactose isn't a problem for you, you can by all means substitute Parmesan cheese here.

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