Thursday, 7 August 2014

Cauliflower’s next chapter… Pizza

By Hannah Sherwood

First it was cauliflower rice, now it’s cauliflower-crust pizza – it seems the one-time wallflower vegetable is relishing its time in the spotlight.
It may sound like a strange idea, but swapping traditional pizza base ingredients for a combination of gluten-free flour and, you guessed it, cauliflower is great if you have an intolerance, plus with just 34kcal in 100g, it’s kinder to your waistline and is a nifty way to sneak veg into the diets of fussy eaters. Cauliflower also provides fibre and is a source of potassium, good intakes of which help to control blood pressure when combined with less salt in our diet. It also helps to boost intakes of several B vitamins, including B1, B6 and folate, and is a rich source of vitamin C.

Taking my inspiration from a recipe by Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, here’s how I got on…

The prep
Coarsely grate or whizz 140g cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. I used a food processor, mainly for convenience but also to save covering my kitchen in cauliflower splinters, as I did the last time I attempted to grate the veg! If using a food processor, add 1 beaten egg white, 50g ground almonds, 40g gluten-free flour (I used quinoa flour) and a little ground black pepper, then whiz until combined (or mix together in a bowl).
Be warned, it won’t resemble traditional pizza dough – it’s more of a paste.

The cooking
There’s no rolling or Italian-style tossing involved with this pizza base – you’ll end up in a sticky mess if you try! Instead, line a baking sheet with baking paper, then dollop the cauliflower mixture in the middle and use a spatula to spread it into a 25–30cm diameter circle. It can be a little tricky to work with, but be patient and you’ll get there. Bake in a hot oven (about 210C/fan190C/gas 6) for 15 min or until golden and starting to crisp at the edge. Flip the base and cook on the other side for 5 min more – I found the best way to do this was to cut another piece of baking paper, lay it on top of the base, then flip it so the new piece of paper is on the bottom (peel away and discard the original piece of baking paper).

Now for the fun part – the toppings. You can add whatever you like, but I chose to spread my pizza base with tomato puree, then scatter over slices of tomato, goat’s cheese, grilled aubergine and parma ham, plus a sprinkling of oregano for seasoning (no need for salt with the saltiness of the cheese and ham!). Pop it back in the oven for 5–7 min to heat through, then serve with a simple salad.

How did I rate it?
The cauliflower crust had a lovely flavour and texture, and wasn’t at all stodgy. It sliced and held together well and left me feeling full, but not bloated.

The down side?
The dough was quite sticky to work with – I had to make sure I didn’t spread it out too thinly as it may have broken when flipped over. 

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