Day 4 in the paleo vegan mono diet challenge, I ventured outside my original plan to focus on cauliflower as the key ingredient or the “star” in recipes I develop this week. Today I decided to mix it up a little…but later realized I hadn’t strayed as far from the rules as I’d originally thought.
In theory, this recipe still adheres to the guidelines; the cauliflower crust is literally the foundation of the dish. I still managed to limit the ingredients to 5, if you count “grilled vegetables” as one ingredient. For this recipe I grilled 5 different vegetables including tomatoes (technically not a vegetable, but it functions as one in this recipe), all of which I used merely because I had them on hand. I encourage experimentation with different combinations of vegetables.
Considering my current goal of minimalist cooking (with 5 ingredients or fewer) I wish I’d limited the toppings to grilled tomatoes and a little basil. Anyway, whichever vegetable topping or combination you try–I hope you enjoy working with this virtually hassle-free recipe. As long as you have the cauliflower and dry ingredients for the crust, with 1 or more vegetables to grill for toppings; olive oil, garlic, and some herbs–I think it could serve as a reliable go-to recipe. Let me know of combinations you try. Take photos! Send them to me, and I’ll feature them here. Tell me about your blog or other endeavors so I can credit you and perhaps talk about guest blogging on paleoveganista.com, if you’re interested.
I used frozen cauliflower because I predicted that raw cauliflower might yield too grainy a texture. When I’ve tried to make cauliflower “rice” with cooked cauliflower, the blender quickly turned it into a puree. The crust for this recipe requires a rice-like (but not too grainy) texture, so as I predicted the frozen variety worked best.
Grilled Vegetable Pizza with Cauliflower Crust
For the crust
1 pound frozen cauliflower florets, left to thaw in the fridge overnight
3 tablespoons ground chia seeds or flax seeds (flax meal)
6 tablespoons water
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3-4 crimini mushrooms, sliced. *Tip: Crimini is merely a fancy term for brown mushrooms–the type sold at chain grocery stores. These tend to cost less than half the price per pound of portabella mushrooms–yet they’re the same thing, only smaller.
2 roma tomatoes, quartered
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in strips
1 small zucchini and/or yellow squash, cut in half and sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup onion, sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
1 tsp crushed basil leaves
1 tsp oregano
Add 3 Tbsp ground chia or flax seeds to 1/3 cup warm water and set aside.
Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into a small bowl or container. Add the garlic, rosemary, basil, and oregano. Set aside. Lightly salt the vegetables and let sit while you make the crust. This will help absorb excess moisture as they cook.
Remove cauliflower from the refrigerator and pulse in a food processor until a rice-like texture is achieved.
Use a cheesecloth or thin towel to squeeze out excess moisture from the cauliflower “rice”. Then transfer to a large bowl and add the chia/flax “egg”, the almond meal, the extra tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds, salt, and garlic. Stir well to mix until it forms a dough. If it is too crumbly, add an additional tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds, and 1-2 tablespoons water. Press the mixture into the parchment-lined 8″ round cake pan. If you don’t have a round cake pan, press the crust into a baking sheet or oven pan and use your hands to create a rounded or whatever shape you like. Make sure the crust is at least 1/4″ thick throughout. *Note: the parchment paper is important for removing the crust from the pan so it doesn’t fall apart.
Bake for 25 minutes at 400*F or until slightly golden around the edges. While the crust cooks, place the sliced, salted vegetables on a sheet pan, and brush with the garlic-herb infused olive oil. Next, turn them over and brush the other side.
Heat your grill to its highest setting and make sure it’s fully preheated before adding the vegetables. Turn the vegetables as they start to get grill marks or until the edges begin to darken.
Approximate cooking times:
Tomatoes, quartered: 4 to 5 minutes
Zucchini strips: 5 to 7 minutes
Mushrooms: 5 to 7 minutes
Onion, sliced: 5 to 7 minutes
Bell pepper strips: 6 to 8 minutes
Carrot slices: 10 to 12 minutes
Once vegetables have cooked, brush the cauliflower crust with the remaining garlic-herb olive oil and layer with grilled veggies. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.