Cauliflower ‘Pizza’ with Smoked Mozzarella

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A pizza crust made from cauliflower is often presented as a low-carb substitute for real pizza. I put the word ‘pizza’ between quotes in the title of this post, because I do not think it is a substitute for real pizza. It is very tasty though. Key to a crust with a good structure without using too many eggs (which would make it too eggy) is to remove some water from the cauliflower. Some recipes will have you cook the cauliflower and then squeeze out some of the water. I’ve chosen to roast the ground cauliflower in the oven before using it to make the crust. This will enhance the cauliflower flavor (as all of the cauliflower will be browned slightly, not just the cauliflower on the outside of the crust) and remove enough water to make it work. The cauliflower works very well with the tomato puree and smoked mozzarella, known as scamorza in Italy. I sliced the scamorza, but the ‘pizza’ will look better if you shred or grate it instead.

If you crave real pizza but you don’t like to eat many carbs, I suggest you make a small but real pizza. If you like the flavor of roasted cauliflower with tomatoes and smoked mozzarella, then this is a great recipe for you.

Ingredients

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Serves 2 for lunch or dinner

400 grams (4 cups) grated cauliflower

50 grams (1.8 oz, 1 cup) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

2 eggs

For the topping

125 grams (4.5 oz) smoked mozzarella (scamorza), shredded

100 grams (generous 1/3 cup) passata di pomodoro/sieved tomatoes/tomato puree

1 tsp dried oregano

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

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Use only the florets of the cauliflower, not the trunks. 1 medium cauliflower should be enough to get you 400 grams of florets.

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Grate the cauliflower florets, or use a food processor.

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You should end up with bits of cauliflower that are a bit smaller than rice.

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Spread out the cauliflower in a thin layer on a baking sheet lined with oven paper.

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Roast at 150C/300F (fan forced) for 15 minutes.

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Stir the cauliflower to ensure even cooking.

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Roast for another 15 minutes at 150C/300F. Then take out the slightly roasted cauliflower and allow to cool somewhat. Increase the oven temperature to 200C/400F.

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Beat 2 eggs.

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Add the roasted cauliflower to the eggs, together with 50 grams of freshly grated parmigiano.

(A note on measuring parmigiano using a cup. This is very inaccurate, as it makes a lot of difference whether the parmigiano is finely grated or coarsely grated, which part of the parmigiano was used (close to the rind the cheese is more powdery instead of fluffy) and if it is packed. 50 grams is about a cup of finely grated, loosely packed parmigiano.)

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Mix the eggs, parmigiano, and cauliflower…

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…until the mixture is homogeneous.

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Spread out the mixture in a circle with a diameter of 24 cm (10″) on the baking sheet that is still lined with oven paper.

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The sides of a springform pan can be helpful to achieve this.

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Bake for 15 minutes at 200C/400F.

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Mix 100 grams of sieved tomatoes with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a teaspoon of dried oregano, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. (This will only work with thick sieved tomatoes. If yours are thin, use more and simmer over low heat until reduced and thick.)

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Spread out this mixture on top of the prebaked crust.

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Top with 125 grams of smoked mozzarella.

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Bake for a final 12 minutes at 200C/400F until the cheese has melted. Your ‘pizza’ is now ready to be enjoyed.

Wine pairing

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I thought this would work well with a medium-bodied Chianti Classico, and it did.

The 2013 San Felice Chianti Classico won tre bicchieri from Gambero Rosso and offers very good value, as it retails in Italy for just under 10 euros. What makes this wine special is that the blend includes pugnitello, a rare Tuscan variety with good quality potential that was rescued by San Felice in the mid 1980s.

  • 80% sangiovese, 10% colorino, 10% pugnitello, fermented in stainless steel and aged in large oak casks for a year, 13% ABV
  • Color: ruby red
  • Nose: restrained at first, with flint and other minerality, and red fruit
  • Taste: medium bodied with smooth tannins, fresh, elegant, and well balanced
  • Conclusion: very good, ****

The wine becomes more complex when paired with the cauliflower and smoked mozzarella ‘pizza’. It highlights the smoky flavors in the pizza and a small bitter note in the finish of the wine. Wine pairing: ****. In terms of the flavor factors:

  • Mouthfeel: both wine and dish are contracting
  • Flavor intensity: both medium intensity
  • Type of flavor: ripe notes in the pizza (smoked cheese, roasted cauliflower) combine with the ripe fruit and oak aging of the wine
  • Complexity: both are medium complex with multiple layers; as mentioned above the pizza makes the wine more complex

Flashback

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Another dish that works well with Chianti Classico is ravioli filled with ricotta and pecorino, served with sauteed spinach and toasted pine nuts.

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16 thoughts on “Cauliflower ‘Pizza’ with Smoked Mozzarella

  1. Thanks for sharing! I tried it this evening. It’s a kind of love-or-hate-thing, I guess. It didn’t work for me. The “crust” is pretty mushy, and the flavors don’t combine very well (for my taste). A pizza dough made from potatoes and flour is – in my humble opinion – a much better choice. The crust is soft, but not mushy and provides a very subtle flavor that combines very well with most toppings. Give it a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mike, sorry to hear it didn’t work for you. The crust is not supposed to be mushy though, so something must have gone wrong. Pizza dough made from flour (or enriched with potato) is something entirely different. This is why I wrote ‘pizza’ in quotes in the first plates. If you want real pizza, don’t make it with cauliflower.

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  2. So good to see a recipe that uses scamorza in the preparation, I love that cheese. I’ve seen this “pizza” crust prepared but never with the cauliflower roasted. Great idea, Stefan! I’ve not prepared a sauce for my pizze in ages. Instead, I use a small can of roasted diced tomatoes that I’ve drained of all liquid and seasoned with a bit of oregano. I prefer the “chunks” to a sauce. Even so, should I make your dish, I’ll follow the recipe as written and will get back to you. Best of all, having lost some weight, pizza has been dropped from my diet of late. Your crust may be a way to bring an old friend back to my table. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Way ahead of you, Stefan. Just made dough for 3 skillet pizzas, one for Friday night and the other two go into the freezer. All this because the grocery I entered today only had 1 cauliflower! ONE!!!
        I had already been to the fishmonger so I had to get my seafood home or I would have gone to another grocer looking for a better selection of cauliflower.
        You’re right about the cheese and I just might go vegetarian, as well, to “limit the damage”, so to speak. Thanks for the pointers. I’ll get to your cauliflower crust, rest assured. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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