Pizza / Vegetarian / Weeknight Dinner

Cauliflower Crust Pizza: worth the hype?

So if you spend as much time on Pinterest and food blogs as I do, you’ve probably seen a bunch of recipes that use cauliflower instead of rice. Apparently, all you have to do is throw some cauliflower in the food processor, and you have a low-calorie, gluten-free substitute that can be used in rice dishes and even pizza. Sounds pretty amazing, right?

I finally got around to trying out cauliflower rice, and here’s the thing: yes, it’s a lot lower in calories, and it’s a great way to sneak in your veggies. But, much like shirataki noodles, it’s not as good as the original. Rice is rice, and cauliflower is cauliflower, even if it’s been through the food processor and *kind of* looks like rice. As long as you’re okay with knowing it’s not going to be an equal swap, then it’s not half bad. I definitely would not substitute rice for cauliflower all the time, but every so often, it works nicely. For example, I’ve tried cauliflower rice with a bit of cilantro and lime and it was a great side to tacos. But red curry over cauliflower rice? Yeah, not so much. Unlike actual rice, cauliflower rice gets soggy pretty easily, so it’s better used in fried rice type dishes.

Yesterday, I used my head of cauliflower for just that. I really like curry fried rice, which is typically with yellow curry, but I used red curry because I already had the paste opened. Even with the swap, it was still a pretty good dish. I threw some bell pepper, onion, and pineapple in with the cauliflower rice, and used tofu for my protein.

Normally, I press my tofu for an hour or so to remove moisture, but this time I tried a new technique I saw in this recipe  which just calls for placing the tofu in a pan and using the heat to remove moisture. A lot faster, and it still worked pretty well.

Overall, this is a lot healthier than traditional fried rice, and the curry paste adds a nice twist. The whole recipe is roughly 230 calories (one cup of cauliflower rice is only about 30 calories!).

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Curry Tofu Cauliflower Fried Rice (serves 1)
3 oz extra-firm tofu, cubed
1 1/2 cups cauliflower rice
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
about 1/4 cup diced red onion
about 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s frozen pineapple tidbits
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
about 1/2 tbsp curry paste (I used red curry paste)
dash of tumeric
juice of half lime
salt and pepper
fish sauce (optional)


In a pan on medium-high heat, add cubed tofu and cook a few minutes to remove moisture. Remove and transfer to a plate or small bowl and sprinkle with lime juice, tumeric, and salt and pepper. Let sit while you continue working with the other ingredients.

Using the same pan, add 1/2 tsp oil and the pepper, onion, and garlic. Let cook a few minutes until onion and pepper start to soften. Add tofu, curry paste, pineapple, remaining oil, and cauliflower rice and continue cooking another 3-4 minutes. Add a small amount of fish sauce if desired. When done, transfer to a bowl and serve immediately; squeeze remaining lime juice over the top.

I stored the cauliflower rice I didn’t use for the fried rice in a tupperware in the fridge. I find it’s easier to just chop up a whole head of cauliflower and rice it at once, then store the leftovers (kinda like when I make spaghetti squash) instead of chopping up a bit each time. Usually, the riced cauliflower will keep for a few days.

Today for lunch, I finally tried cauliflower pizza. I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical that a pizza without real dough could be good, but I had cauliflower rice in my fridge and enough time to make a meal that took more than 10 minutes, so I gave it a go.

I was able to find a handful of different recipes for cauliflower crust online, but most seemed to involve a combination of cauliflower “rice”, cheese, and egg. To save a few calories, I used egg whites instead of a whole egg. I also decided to use a combination of different cheeses and because I like garlic pizza crusts, I threw in some garlic salt and minced garlic. It might sound kind of weird to use cottage cheese, but I found a few blogs that included it in their crust recipe, and I thought I’d give it a go. The key is to make sure the liquid is drained, but it actually worked pretty well for me, and it was better than sticking to purely mozzarella. When I first mixed the crust ingredients together, I was skeptical because it seemed kinda mushy/liquidy, but it still was able to form the crust shape, and it cooked like it was supposed to.

Questionably-looking crust ingredients...

Questionably-looking crust ingredients…

For toppings, I kept things simple and stuck to some veggies. The crust actually already has a decent amount of protein thanks to the egg whites and cheese, so I didn’t feel a need to add any more. Because I just put veggies and pineapple on mine, I didn’t feel the need to cook my toppings beforehand (although I did saute my mushrooms quickly). However, if you’re adding toppings like meat, you definitely need to cook them first, because you only broil the topped pizza for a few minutes.

Honestly, this was good, but it’s no substitute for real pizza. Nor did I expect it to be. However, for being a pizza made with cauliflower instead of bread, it was pretty yummy! I do think it’s a bit too much work for someone lazy like me to make on a regular basis, but I’m glad I tried it, finally. I will say that the crust, or my crust at least, wasn’t as crisp as I’d like. The outside was perfect, but the inside was still pretty soft. If I’d put more toppings on, I probably would have needed to use a fork.

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Here’s the thing though: I was hungry again like an hour later, and while it was good, I would have rather had pizza. And actually, I ended up grabbing a slice at Hot Mama’s later, so I pretty much cancelled out my healthy intentions. So I’d say this recipe is good for a snack, or if you’re having it as a meal, make sure to have some sort of side. My pizza came to around 275 calories total, but that amount can easily be increased or decreased based on the type of cheese you use and toppings added.

Cauliflower Crust Pineapple Veggie Pizza (serves 1)
For the crust:
1 cup cauliflower rice
3 tbsp liquid egg whites
1/4 cup fat free cottage cheese, liquid drained
a bit less than 1/4 cup shredded part skim mozzarella
1 garlic clove, finely minced
Garlic salt
Onion & herb seasoning (seasoning of choice)
Toppings I used:
about 1 oz sliced white mushrooms
thin bell pepper slices
thin red onion slices
drizzle of olive oil (about 1/4 tsp)
1-2 tbsp shredded asiago cheese
<1/4 cup frozen pineapple tidbits

Preheat oven to 450F.

In a small bowl, microwave the cauliflower rice and garlic (dry, without adding water) for about 4 minutes. Once done, let it sit a few minutes to cool.

In the same bowl, add egg whites, cottage cheese, mozzarella, and salt and seasoning. Mix well. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, pat the cauliflower crust mixture into a round shape. You want the crust to be pretty thin, so it will cook all the way and not be mushy.

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Bake the crust for about 15 minutes, or until golden and the edges are crisp. Remove it from the oven once done and turn the oven to broil (high).

Add your toppings onto the pizza. I left my bell pepper and onion raw, and let my pineapple defrost beforehand. I sauteed my mushrooms with a bit of butter spray to soften them up before. You want to make sure ingredients like meat are cooked beforehand.

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Broil the pizza for 3-4 minutes, until toppings are hot and cheese is melted. 

Side note: this is what happens to parchment paper when you broil things…

Remove from oven and transfer to a cutting board to let sit for 1-2 minutes. Cut into slices and serve immediately. 

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