11 August 2014


My six-foot-plus husband has two equally large brothers, and with six years between the oldest and youngest, there was, at one time, an 11 year old, a 14 year old, and a 17 year old all living in the same house. I'm sure you can imagine what that means in terms of PIZZA CONSUMPTION, but on the chance you're a numbers person: in 1995, the manager of their local Domino's sent his family a handwritten note thanking them for – in that one calendar year – having ordered over one hundred times. Not just having ordered over one hundred PIZZAS, mind you, but having ordered over ONE HUNDRED TIMES, in total. At least once every 3.65 days someone at his house picked up the phone and asked for at least three pizzas; factor in sleepovers and study groups, and I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility that well over a thousand boxes went directly to the Wests' front door that year. Let's move on.

I've been monkeying around with this recipe for a Cauliflower Crust since doing the Whole 30 in May; while my first few attempts were less than P E R F E C T O (picture an overall sense of CARDBOARD), I've since found that the trick is to jam as much flavor – basil, sea salt, crushed red pepper, etc – into the "dough" as you possibly can. Other lessons learned? Cheesecloth is the way to go for pressing the water from the cauliflower (and while it's not the most fun part of the process, the effort pays off in STRUCTURAL DIVIDENDS), and wax paper and parchment paper are not the same thing. Do not attempt to interchange. I should probably be more embarrassed about not having realized that before.

The end result of all that workshopping is a totally delicious crust, prime for topping with grilled Farmer's Market finds and ALL the heirloom tomatoes. And while in some camps that would totally a pizza make, that verbiage did NOT go far with the PIZZA PRINCE of PIZZA CASTLE. I can't say I blame him for bristling at the semantics – it's really more of a flatbread sitch, it's good to have a fork on hand, and yeah – marinara isn't much of an option. So fine – it's not actually pizza, but it IS an awesome, paleo substitute for one, whether you're doing the Whole30 or just trying to look tite in yr jeans. And if you want pizza-pizza, lemme know. Somebody around here still knows the number by heart.

recipe after the jump!

PALEO CAULIFLOWER CRUST (makes one, serves 2)

1 medium head of Cauliflower, leaves removed, roughly chopped
1 large Egg
1/2 - 3/4 cup finely ground Almond Meal
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
5-6 Basil leaves, chopped (I used Opal Basil for the one in the photos)
Flaked Sea Salt, to taste (at least 1-2 tsps)
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes and fresh ground Black Pepper, to taste

1. Pre-heat your oven to 450º. In a large pot, bring an inch-or-so of water to boil, then add cauliflower. Cover and steam until just tender, 5-7 minutes, then transfer to a colander to drain and cool.
2. Transfer the cauliflower to your food processor, and rice until the texture is more or less consistent throughout.
3. Move the mixture into a cheesecloth bag, and over your sink or into a bowl, systematically P R E S S out as much water from the cauliflower as you have the patience for. It's actually kind of amazing how much water is in there; stick with it til you feel confident that it's more dry than it is mush, then transfer into a bowl. This feels like it takes forever but really it's only about five minutes, and it should look about like the above.
4. Add garlic, basil, salt/spices, and 1/2 cup of the almond meal to your "dough" and mix. I usually just mix with my hands, and just until combined. If your head of cauliflower was on the larger side OR if you're feeling like the mixture is veering a little too wet, add more almond meal to compensate. I'm going off the assumption that we all have a basic understanding of what dough is and how it works; you don't want it so dry as to be crumbly, but it shouldn't be sliding all over the place. Don't overthink it. You got this.
5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then make a big ball of your dough mixture in your bowl. Transfer to the center of your sheet, then systematically press it evenly flat, and into a pizza crust shape. Mine usually looks just about like this; you want it to be on the thinner side so that the moisture bakes out, but not so delicate that you can't run a spatula under it to get your slices.
6. Bake at 450º until starting to brown, about 15-20 minutes. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before topping with grilled vegetables, tomatoes, and cheese as desired. Drizzle with olive oil, slice, and serve immediately.


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