There's a lot of hype about the power of cauliflower these days. It's a versatile ingredient that's made rice cool again for people counting carbs.
If you’re craving pizza but want a lower-carb alternative, you've probably heard that a cauliflower crust is the answer. There are plenty of store-bought versions, from Oprah's O! That's Good cauliflower cheese pizza to Trader Joe's cauliflower or broccoli-kale crusts.
But if you're in the mood for some home cooking and want to save a few bucks, making a cauliflower crust from scratch only requires few ingredients and is actually much easier to roll out than traditional pizza dough. Since cauliflower rice, the main ingredient, is popping up in grocery stores everywhere, making a crust can take less than 30 minutes.
Just follow these five simple steps and apply them to any vegan or traditional recipe.
1. Prep the cauliflower rice
Cauliflower rice is surprisingly easy to make at home and doesn’t require any special equipment. Sure, it’s faster to chop up a head of cauliflower in a food processor, but grating it on a box grater or even chopping it finely with a knife works just as well. If you do make your own rice, cook it slightly before assembling the crust to help the moisture come out. Simply microwave it for about 30 seconds. If you buy the riced cauliflower frozen, leave the bag in the fridge overnight to thaw out.
Before assembling the crust, it’s always important to remove the excess water. This will prevent your crust from becoming soggy. Wrap the cauliflower grains in a clean kitchen towel or a cheesecloth and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze — and then squeeze some more. Usually, a half cup of water will drain from just one head of cauliflower or two bags of frozen cauliflower rice.
2. Add flavorings and binding agents
This is where you can really have some fun. Cheeses, spices and herbs will add plenty of flavor and variety to any standard crust recipe. Just don't overdo it on the salt to let the toppings shine.
However, the most important ingredient is a binding agent, which is something to hold it all together. Adding an egg or two ensures a crust-like consistency that you’ll be able to pick up with your hands. You can also make this vegan by using ground flaxseed meal or chia seeds.
3. Bake the crust
Before adding any toppings, pre-bake the crust. This allows the cauliflower dry out even more and prevents sogginess. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and press the dough directly onto the parchment to prevent the crust from sticking to the cookie sheet. If you don’t have parchment paper, spray the cookie sheet with baking spray to prevent sticking.
Press the dough onto a prepared cookie sheet, making sure it is flat and even. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges become lightly browned.
4. Prepare the toppings
While baking the crust, get your favorite toppings ready. Try homemade pesto or tomato sauce as a base. If you love veggie pizzas, sauté some peppers, onions and mushrooms before putting them on the pizza to ensure they’re cooked through and nicely caramelized.
If you like more traditional toppings, use shredded cheese, fresh herbs and slices of pepperoni. If making small, personalized pizza crusts, set up a topping bar so friends and family can pick and choose their favorites.
5. Bake the pizza again
Once your pie is topped up, pop it back into the oven so any cheeses melt and the sauce bakes into the crust. This second baking is really just to warm the toppings. Usually 10 minutes does the trick.
Remove the pizza from the oven and enjoy!