Cauliflower Crust Pizza

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[infobox subtitle="Goodbye, Dairy and Gluten!" bg="gray" color="black" opacity="off" space="30" link="no link"]Pizza Pie[/infobox]

If you've been following The Alternative on YouTube or are a regular reader of TheLoDown you know by now that I've jumped head first into the land of dairy-free and mostly gluten-free goodness.  I had a slice of Chicago style pizza the other night because it was literally my only food option and my stomach was in serious pain until the next day.  Definitely a proof point for me on a personal level that I don't tolerate dairy very well.

So with that in mind I bring you the best alternative out there: dairy free pizza (just skip the cheese and go heavy on toppings) with a cauliflower crust (it's so, so tasty).  Creating an alternative crust is challenging in theory - how to replicate the flavor, the consistency, and all that doughy goodness?  The reality is that you simply cannot, but you CAN be okay with something different that's fabulous in its own way.  Getting down with something different is the trick to cooking like this.

So, this dairy and gluten-free cauliflower crust browns nicely, tastes effing amazing, but does NOT really stay together like a normal crust.  I usually eat it with a fork and knife right off the plate and am perfectly happy.  If you choose to add cheese to your crust it will stay together a bit better (just add some parmesan).  Finally, if you go with the dairy-free version you could add a bit of nutritional yeast for some cheese flavor.

As far as toppings go, it's easy to skip cheese altogether.  I've chosen chicken sausage, mushrooms, onions, rosemary, thyme, and truffle oil for this baby and the flavors are spectacular together.  I don't miss the cheese at all.  Time to get cooking...the recipe is below!

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Cauliflower Crust Pizza

[tabgroup layout="horizontal"] [tab title="Ingredients"]Pizza Crust:

1. A medium head of cauliflower

2. 2 healthy pinches of Kosher Salt

3. 3 Tablespoons Dried Herbs (whatever combo you feel like will go best with your toppings - I used rosemary here)

4. 2 Tablespoons garlic powder

5. 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

6. 3 Tablespoons almond flour

7. 1 Tablespoon olive oil

8. 1 large egg

Toppings:

1. 1/2 onion, cut into long slices

2. 2 sweet chicken sausages

3. 2 cups mixed mushrooms (raw)

4. Fresh Rosemary

5. Fresh Thyme

6. Kosher Salt

7. Black Pepper

8. Drizzle of Black Truffle Oil

9. Earth Balance Butter Alternative[/tab] [tab title="Procedure"]1. First things first, preheat the oven to 450 F.  In a pan on medium heat, slowly cook onion over medium heat in Earth Balance (substitute for butter) for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Wash the cauliflower and cut it into 1 inch florets (or buy a bag that's pre-cut).  Dry the veggies well and using your food processor pulse the cauliflower for about 30 seconds on and off until the veggie is broken down into a thick sand-like texture.  

3. Cook the cauliflower in a pan (add a bit of water if you want) for about 10 minutes with lid on, stirring occasionally.  Taste some of it -when it seems like it's cooked, it is!  I use this method because I don't own a microwave, but if you do just pop it into a bowl covered with plastic wrap and nuke them on high for 3-4 minutes.

4. With a clean kitchen towel handy (one that doesn't give off lots of fuzzy things, you don't want them in your food) pour the cauliflower mixture onto it.  Wrap it up like a ball in your hand with the opening of the towel facing up.  Twist the towel to remove as much water from the cauliflower as possible.  You'll be seriously amazed at how much water comes out.  This step is important - you want a nice, dry base for your crust so that it stays together and doesn't steam in the oven.

5. In a bowl combine your dried-out cauliflower, dried herbs, salt,  garlic powder, and red onion.  Once fluffed together, add olive oil and an egg and form a nice dough in your hands.

6. On a oiled piece of parchment paper form the dough into a round slab, pressing down into a pizza pie crust shape with your hands. I wouldn't recommend using a rolling pin here as the dough will come apart.  Make it about 1/4 of an inch thick - sturdy enough to hold toppings but thin enough so as not to overwhelm each delectable bite.

7.  Meanwhile, have your baking sheet heating up in the oven.  Once it's hot and your dough is ready slide the parchment onto the sheet and bang it into the oven for about 15 minutes or until the crust starts to get nicely brown on the edges.  You'll be amazed when you open the oven and see your beautiful and healthy creation!

8. While the dough cooks prepare the rest of your toppings.  The onions should definitely be done - set them aside in a bowl.  In the same pan sauté your mushrooms until they are well done, seasoned with salt, pepper, fresh thyme, and rosemary.  In a separate pan heat up some canola oil and fry up the slice of your chicken sausage so each one gets crispy brown.  Set all your toppings aside until your crust comes out of the oven.

9. Pull your crust out when brown, add toppings, drizzle with black truffle oil and bang back into the oven for 5 more minutes.

10. Eat with a fork and knife with your lover and friends and enjoy! [/tab]

[tab title=“Notes”]1. Serves: 3 People

2 Difficulty: Medium

3 Time: 65 Minutes [/tab]

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