Pizza and a movie night is a fun tradition in my family. We have learned to get creative with crusts and toppings making each pizza night unique, healthy, and fun. Our new grain-free lifestyle could leave us empty handed on pizza night but instead, it has prompted me to try out the cauliflower crust recipes I have seen floating around. I have tried several. Some totally flopped, some partially flopped, and by combining several ideas and working out my own techniques I’ve hit on a recipe that is almost always a winner. So here are my tried-and-true secrets for a great cauliflower pizza crust.
First- “Rice” the cauliflower. You can do this by shredding pieces of cauliflower on the large holes of a box grater, or by pulsing smaller pieces of cauliflower in a food processor. Warning- both ways are messy. Like, you will be finding little bits of cauliflower all over your kitchen for days after kind of messy. The food processor way is a bit less messy so it’s what I generally use. I use two to three large heads of cauliflower for one pizza. Once your cauliflower is “riced” it should look like this:
At this point you can continue to make pizza OR separate the rice into freezer bags and use later for stir fried “rice”, stuffed peppers, puree for mac ‘n cheese, or future pizza crust.
If you decide to make pizza, heat the riced cauliflower in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. You just want it to sweat and slightly soften. Mix in seasonings (I like Italian seasonings with garlic, herbs, salt, and crushed red peppers), shredded cheese , and egg whites. Then, without making it too thin, press the cauliflower mixture onto a baking sheet lined with VERY well greased tin foil. Other recipes will say parchment. I have tried this…a lot…I have never had success with it and so I stick with tin foil. Don’t skimp when greasing the tin foil. The voice of experience is telling you this pizza crust is one sticky little bugger and if you don’t want to be scraping foil off the back you will heed my words.
Put the pan in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes. It should look nice and bubbly golden brown. Take the pan out and…you are only half done. Sorry, but a really good cauliflower pizza crust needs to be cooked on both sides. Now the tricky part comes in. You need to flip the crust. Be careful, it is flimsy and cracks easily- good part is once it’s flipped you can just press the uncooked side together to patch up any little cracks that happen. When I flip the crust I do it kind of like turning out a cake. I carefully slide the foil off the pan, place new WELL greased foil on the pan, then turn that upside down over the crust. So now I have the greased foil touching the cooked crust with the pan on top. (Clear as mud?) Then I use spatulas (and sometimes a willing helper) to flip the whole thing over. I then carefully peel that first layer of foil off patching up (or snacking on) cracks as I go. Once that foil is removed I put that lovely cauliflower crust back into the 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Phew, Breath, the hard part is over- really.
When this side is brown and bubbly I top the pizza crust. This is another place where I deviate from many of the recipes out there. I find that putting the sauce on the cauliflower crust just does not work. The crust gets soggy, the sauce drips through the bottom, the whole thing becomes kind of watery and generally not fabulous. My brilliantly complex solution to this? I serve the sauce on the side and let people dip away- tastes great and keeps a good consistency. (OK I know that’s neither brilliant nor complex) I top with whatever veggies I have on hand (great way to get the fridge cleaned out for Saturday’s basket) and whatever meat tickles our fancy. And, of course, I sprinkle on more cheese. The topped pizza goes back into the oven for another 10 minutes or so to get the toppings all gooey and happy. Then the hardest part of all- waiting. The cauliflower crust MUST sit for 10 minutes or so before you cut into it. This allows it to absorb liquid, and get set up to a crust consistency.
Now, when I am waiting for food to cool I have to keep myself busy or I will sneak- and generally regret it. So I use this time to set-up the screen for a family-friendly film. We like a wide variety of movies but one of our absolute favorites is Believe In Me starring Jeffrey Donovan and directed by Robert Collector. As a mother of daughters I love movies that show the strength of girls and help to give them a feeling of empowerment. In a very down-to-earth, inspiring way this movie does just that. It tells the true story of a basketball coach who transfers to a small town with the promise of coaching boys, only to arrive to an offer as coach for girls. In a pre-Title 9 world there is not only little notoriety for a girls’ coach there are uphill battles, even in success. The reluctant coach soon finds himself overrun with girls but they soon win his heart and he fights to get them the respect they deserve. This movie uses a great mix of humor, emotion, and inspiration to share a story that can be enjoyed by sports fans, and those just along for the food. The content is totally clean and perfect for viewers 8 and up, although my toddler boys happily sit and watch it (mainly for the pizza and the game scenes but hey, they’re there). So this movie night consider grabbing a slice of cauliflower crust pizza and snuggling up with a movie that will have you Believing.