Corn and Cremini Chickpea Cauliflower “Pizza”
Cauliflower Chickpea-Flour “Pizza”
This recipe delivers a satisfying and meaty umami-ness from corn, sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms, but is it pizza? Gluten, scorned by carbophobic eaters and necessarily restricted by a minority of others, is a key ingredient in pizza crusts. As a carb-lover who’s selective about carbs, it feels sad to restrict gluten-based foods unnecessarily, especially with comfort foods.
Pizza’s cultural heritage hinges on the dough. Real dough with flour, full of glutenin, gliadin and other flour proteins that yield textures and flavors inspiring a bread lexicon of “crumb”, “chew”, “caramel”, “honey”, “nutty”. No cauliflower crust “pizza” will deserve such praise; it’s just not possible.
However, I accepted a challenge to prove that cauliflower crusts could yield some pizza-worthy structure (you can pick a slice up without it breaking apart since eating “pizza” with a fork feels a bit French.
Unfortunately, most cauliflower “pizza” recipes result in crumbly crusts or rely on a cheese binder. This version uses nutrient-rich chickpea flour for structure and to balance strong cauliflower flavors. Some cooking tricks create a crust that browns nicely and maintains structure.
After much testing, and squeezing and more squeezing—really you must get the liquids out of the cauliflower—I’m happy.
I served a cauliflower crust or cauliflower tart to my pizza-loving husband purposely avoiding the description “pizza”. He took a few bites with head-nodding approval and said:
“this is great pizza”.
I gave up. Here’s my recipe for cauliflower “pizza”.
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced ½ inch
½ cup (about 6 ounces) sweet corn kernels (if using canned, drain well)
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup grated smoked mozzarella
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, diced
Optional seasonal garnish: 3-4 tablespoons fresh English peas, blanched
Optional Garnishes: red onion sliced fine, fresh thyme
1 medium to large whole cauliflower head, trimmed of leaves (for frozen florets, see below)
¾ cup chickpea flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
⅛ teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon cumin powder
2 large eggs
- To a mixing bowl, add chickpea flour, salt and spices and mix together. Rinse, dry and slice mushrooms and prepare corn kernels, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes and any optional garnishes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or oil surface well.
- In a large skillet over medium-heat, add olive oil. When hot, add mushrooms slices single layer (maximizes flavor and texture). Cook undisturbed, until browning is visible, then toss and cook for even browning. When evenly cooked and nicely browned, remove from pan.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F and place oven racks at the lowest and highest levels. Cut the cauliflower in half, then chop into 2-3 inch pieces including the stem. Add to food processor (2 batches may be required) and pulse to a powdery texture (finer than “rice” granules). If you lack a food processer, grate by hand using the fine grate section. Transfer to a microwave-safe bowl.
- Microwave on high for 5 minutes or until soft and moist. Place a tea towel across a mixing bowl and pour the mash onto the center. When cooled, pull towel edges together to form a sac around the mash. Squeeze from the top and sides to remove liquid (about 1 cup) leaving about 1 cup of mash.
- Add mash and eggs to flour mixture and stir until well combined. Spread onto parchment paper and flatten to about ¼ inch. You can also create a border by pinching or rolling the edge inward.
- Bake 10-14 minutes on lowest rack or until cooked firm and crust is browned sheet side. Remove from oven, add toppings (cheese on top—cover sun-dried tomatoes or they burn), place sheet on top rack for 4-6 minutes, then turn oven to broil and move to top rack to melt cheese and brown any exposed crust area. Place “pizza” on baking rack to cool.
Preparation Notes: If using frozen cauliflower, 24 ounces is about 1 cup cooked. Defrost cauliflower per package instructions and blend in food processor. Mash will be much wetter than fresh mash.