Ever since removing gluten from my diet, there has been a persistent and painful pizza-shaped hole in my heart. I have tried filling it in all the usual ways – gluten free pizza from Pizza Nova, Pizzaiolo, even (gasp!) Pizza Hut and frozen pizzas – all to no avail. These attempts all inevitably end in a disappointment wrought by crust with the texture of cardboard and a chewiness that leaves my teeth sorer than the surliest of bears. I soon despaired of ever enjoying a reasonable facsimile of the blissfully soft yet crunchy pizza I had enjoyed throughout my life – and enjoy it I did. I LOVE pizza. It’s basically the perfect food, and it was always worth the dairy despondency I would later suffer as a result of all that beautiful cheese.
Then one day, my talented (and gorgeous!) friend Sarah invited some friends over, myself included, for a build-your-own pizza night. I mentally prepared myself for a night of wistfully staring at other people’s pizzas and mournfully breathing in their intoxicating scent. But she had a trick up her sleeve – cauliflower pizza crust – and I was shocked. It came out of the oven, and lo and behold… it was good. I mean really good. It wasn’t trying to be the pizza I remembered, and yet it filled that triangular hole in my heart with ease. I was a VERY happy girl that night.
The pizza recipe I’m going to share with you is inspired by that night. I wanted to make it vegan because I really do relish having my cake and eating it too. This pizza is mouth-wateringly delicious, flavourful, and light. It will not leave you feeling weighed down, but you’ll still feel like you’ve indulged in something really special. If you are wondering what recipe to start with while perusing my blog – this is the one!
One more thing – I had actually made this pizza about two weeks ago, but it smelled (and tasted) so unbelievably amazing that I was more than halfway through eating it before Conor turned to me and said, “Shouldn’t you have photographed this?”. So let that be my testament to it’s power.
Cauliflower Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Spinach (makes 3 small or 2 large pizzas)
~ Gluten free, grain free, vegan ~
For the crust
- 1 large head of cauliflower
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tbsp. chia or ground flax seeds and 4 tbsp. water (4 chia eggs)
- Cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel
For the pizza
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 8-12 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and sliced
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 2 large handfuls spinach, chopped
- A few basil leaves, torn into small pieces or strips
- Daiya mozzarella, however much you like (I used a little over half a package)
- 1 can of tomato paste and some filtered water, or homemade tomato sauce if you have on hand
- Mix together chia or flax seeds with water in a small bowl and set aside to gel.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove. In the meantime, remove leaves from cauliflower and place florets into food processor. Process until it has the texture of rice. Add cauliflower to the boiling water, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain in a fine mesh sieve, put cauliflower in a bowl and place in the fridge for about an hour to cool.
- Once you have removed the cauliflower from the fridge, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Put the cauliflower into your cheesecloth or thin dishtowel and, holding over the sieve, squeeze the excess water out. There will be a lot!
- Put the now fairly dry cauliflower into a bowl and mix in the nutritional yeast, coconut flour, chia eggs, and spices. The amount of flour you use will depend on how much water is still there; I started with ¼ cup and ended up using about ½. Mix everything well with your hands.
- Pour tomato paste into a small bowl and add water, a little bit at a time, until it has the sauce consistency you would like.
- Line two pizza trays or regular baking trays with parchment paper. You should have enough dough for two large pizzas or 3 small ones. Simply kneed the dough with your hands and press down using the palm of your hand or knuckles. Make sure the dough is evenly spread, leaving no thin spots. Bake for 30 minutes, or until it feels firm and is starting to brown.
- While your crust is cooking, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onions and increase heat to medium-high. Stir occasionally until they start to brown, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Spread evenly in the pan and let cook down until caramelized, stirring occasionally – this may take 30 minutes or so.
- When 30 minutes has passed, remove crusts from the oven, flip, and return to cook for another 10 minutes.
- Once the onions are cooked to your liking, add in the sundried tomatoes and spinach. Stir until the spinach is wilted and remove from the heat. Season with freshly cracked pepper. You may wish to add sea salt as well, but it most likely won’t need it.
- Evenly spread the tomato sauce over your pizzas, leaving an edge for the crust. Sprinkle as much cheese as you’d like, and then add the onion mixture on top. Garnish with fresh basil.
- Place pizzas back in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.