Friday, May 4, 2012

Pizza Night!

Hello, my long lost friends! School has kept me really preoccupied the past several months. I'm happy I'll soon have a break for a couple of months.

First off, I have a new twitter feed! I realized that when I don't have much time to post a real entry, I do have time to tweet. It's not always food-based, but it's likely to be the subject of most tweets. I can be found here:

Now that I'm ramping down for the semester, however (finals began today), I have been getting reacquainted with my kitchen. Since tonight is traditionally "pizza night" in our house, I figured I'd do a healthy spin on it. Since the weather is warmer and we're getting those awesome spring veggies, I'm loving cooking with as many veggies as possible.

I've heard great things about cauliflower crust, so was curious. I'm not gluten free, but welcome any healthy addition to my diet, if it's tasty. I figure I'd do a side-by-side comparison with homemade whole wheat flat bread.

Cauliflower Crust

The cauliflower crust is easy: a cup of chopped cauliflower to 1 egg (if you don't do egg, I imagine flax and water would be a suitable binder). I added Italian herbs and crushed red pepper then pressed onto the pan (not too thin). It took about 15 minutes @ 450 (no toppings yet). It could easily be doubled.

This is the cauliflower crust straight from the oven before topping:

Homemade Flat Bread

I've made pizzas from a myriad of flat breads (tortillas, lavash, naan), but this one's the easiest to make. It's also quick and whole grain (traditionally it's chickpea flour, but other whole grain flours work well, especially whole wheat and cornmeal). I made the batter (1c whole wheat flour, seasoned w/ salt & approx 1 1/2c water- incorporate slowly until like a thin pancake batter) and heated a cast iron skillet with the oven to 450 degrees (farenheit) and placed some olive oil in the pan w/ thinly-sliced onions sprinkled with thyme. After a couple of minutes, I gave the onions a stir to ensure evenness and poured the batter in the pan to bake for about 30 min.

This is the flat bread out of the oven w/ some grated manchego cheese:

Now for the toppings!

I added tomato sauce and mozzarella to the cauliflower crust and topped half with marinated mushroom, tomatoes and fresh basil. I topped the other half with turkey pepperoni, then put it under a hot broiler for a few minutes (keep an eye on it- it's done when the cheese is melted).

For the flat bread pizza, I left things simple. I blanched some asparagus, chopped it up and placed it on top with the manchego. The caramelized onions and the manchego on their own make for a yummy combo. The asparagus was the icing on the proverbial cake. Once topped, I baked it in a moderate oven for about 7 minutes (again, until the cheese melted). I didn't catch a photo of the finished product (whole), but here it is before it hit the oven again:

The verdict...

It was a tie! I was surprised that my favorite between the two crusts was the cauliflower. It was great with the tomatoes and mushrooms. I also liked the other pizza, mostly because it wasn't traditional. .100% whole wheat overtakes the more traditional pizza toppings, in my opinion. My husband preferred the flat bread, though he also enjoyed the mushroom tomato combo on the cauliflower. The pepperoni didn't mesh very well with the delicate grain-free crust. I think I'll stick to fresh vegetarian toppings for this one.

I should note that these 3 pieces filled me up! Considering two of the slices were on a vegetable-based crust, that's pretty great. Dessert will be some fresh melon :-)


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