Cauliflower Pizza Bases

Food FervourI was skeptical about this notion when I first heard of it. Could cauliflower really imitate a dough base and hold together under the weight of all those toppings? I had to try for myself. And I was completely surprised (and smitten) when I made my first one. Now I can’t look back. Whilst they’re neither a thin crunchy base, nor a thick chewy, doughy one, they do manage to hold together well enough to support all your toppings (and I usually pile on way more than you’d get in your typical takeaway pizza). They are…. amazeballs.

Why opt for cauliflower over grain-dough bases? My primary reason is because it’s a vegetable. Whilst I prefer not to demonise foods, I would choose a vegetable over a grain in this case purely for its nutritional content. In general veggies provide more nutrient density and variety. And then there’s the fact that cauliflower’s pretty much starch (complex carbohydrate) -free compared to dough, which matters if you are ‘watching your weight’. Finally, there’s the gluten issue: this is perfect for coeliacs or the gluten intolerant.

Food Fervour

Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley features in this cauliflower pizza base

And best of all, you only need – at the very least – TWO ingredients: cauliflower and eggs. Many cauliflower pizza base recipes will include more than two, but they really are optional: the vegetable and eggs on their own will work just fine …but it is fun to play around with add-ins. I’ve experimented with a few of the following: obviously salt & pepper, but also chopped/dried herbs, grated cheese, tomato paste and I just LOVE nutritional yeast flakes (idea borrowed from Lee Holmes’ Supercharged Food).

It’s such a simple procedure, however the success of your base will be largely determined during one specific step. Here’s the method, based on 500gm cauliflower and 2 eggs:

Pre-heat Oven to 200ºC and line a baking tray with baking paper. Set aside.

Steam Cauliflower florets:

Manually: In a medium/large saucepan, bring add approx 2-3cm of water to the boil over high heat (cover with the lid to expediate this or better still, add boiling water from a freshly boiled electric jug to a large saucepan on the stovetop, on high heat). Add the florets, drop the heat back to simmer and keep the lid on the saucepan. Your cauliflower should cook in 4-5 minutes (check softness with a utensil). Thermomixers: Add 500gm of water to bowl then place cauliflower florets in basket. Programme 14 minutes, Varoma, speed 1-1.5.

Remove Excess fluid from the Cauliflower (this is the crucial step):

Allow cauliflower to cool (you can rinse under cold water to expediate this). Drain all excess water from the florets then roughly chop or mash the cauliflower (in the same saucepan …to save on dish-washing). Thermomixers can simply chop at Speed 5 or Turbo for a few seconds). Empty it all into the centre of a clean cotton tea towel, then, pulling the sides up, begin to squeeze out as much excess water as possible …into the sink for drainage (or over a bowl if you like to conserve your veggie water). The volume of cauliflower will pretty much halve in size. The more fluid you extract, the firmer your pizza base will be.

The Ingredient Mix:

Food Fervour

Tomato (paste) pizza base spread with fresh basil pesto, ready for toppings…

Manually: Return the mashed cauliflower to a bowl (scraping the veggie fibre from the tea towel – waste not, want not!) add the eggs and whatever else you’d like to add to the base, and mix thoroughly. Thermomixers: pop it all into the bowl and blend up to Speed 5 for about 10 seconds (you may want to scrape down the bowl down in between?)

Shape & Cook:

Tip the mixture into the centre of the paper-lined tray, and use a spatula to shape your pizza base. Aim for about ½-cm in thickness.

Pop into the oven and cook for 20 minutes, earmarking to turn the base over at about the halfway mark if possible.

Toppings:

Use the 20 minutes base cooking time to prepare your toppings. I’ll often fry up some mushrooms, preservative free bacon, capsicum and/or zucchini… I’ll boil the electric jug again and blanche some asparagus or broccoli… or make some basil pesto to use as the pizza base spread. You can grate your cheese now as well, so that you’re one hundred percent ready to dress the base.

Food Fervour

Leftover lunch slice of bacon & mushroom pizza

Once the base is done, and your toppings are spread, pop the pizza back in the oven for 7-10 minutes. It goes without saying, you need to serve immediately …but I have successfully refrigerated uneaten portions to enjoy for lunch the next day, just as you might do with a commercial pizza.

These really are the Bomb! If you are in the Gold Coast region, you can book a FoodPT with me to watch me demonstrate this procedure (it’s one of my most popular classes) and you get to eat the results. Find my contact details on the ‘Menu’ Page.

 

Mushroom, Leek & Spinach Stew

With below average winter temperatures here on the Gold Coast at the moment I’m craving warm comfort food a bit more than usual… but tonight I was feeling pretty lazy.

I had my mind set on using up the button mushrooms and leek in my fridge so searched for some inspiration on Google. Nothing particularly hit the spot, so I ended up combining ideas from three different recipes: a vegetarian mushroom stroganoff, a leek & mushroom pasta dish, and an actual leek & mushroom stew…food fervour

It’s not like me to limit the veggie content to just three in most of my meals, but I was tired, and running behind, and just too plain lazy to go the extra mile. Maybe it had to do with the fact that I’d made a batch of gluten free cacao chip biscuits earlier in the afternoon and eaten a few too many of them?

Contrary to its deceptive title, this dish is not vegetarian: I deliberately opted for beef stock to pump up the stew’s flavour. Chicken stock would enrich the mushrooms as well, but Veggos, I am certain that veggie stock would still taste terrific, should you wish to try it (…and please let me know how you go if you do!)

For a solid single serve, you will need 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 finely chopped clove of garlic, 1 leek thinly sliced, salt & black pepper to season, approximately 200gm sliced mushrooms, 200mls beef (or veggie) stock, 1 teaspoon thyme, ½ teaspoon sage, 40gm cream cheese, 100gms baby spinach.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a frypan over a medium heat and cook the garlic and leek for 3-4 minutes (until the leek has softened) stirring occasionally. Season with salt & pepper, then add the remaining oil and the sliced mushrooms, cooking for another 3-4 minutes, again stirring occasionally. Add the thyme, sage & stock, bringing to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes. Mix the cream cheese through then add the spinach, stirring until it has just wilted.

Serve immediately and enjoy immensely! If you’re super hungry, I can imagine a chunk of bread would compliment this perfectly and help you mop up every last drop from your dish.