You had me at pizza: Flourless, dairy-free pizza with a cauliflower pine nut crust and nut-based faux mozz

I need pizza. I really do. But the Whole30 means no pizza for mama on our Friday night pizza night (even though we make the best, fresh from scratch, whole wheat or gluten free home made pizza). What really defines pizza is the crust and the cheese, so really I am SOOL while on Whole30, but I can make something that is compliant and kinda like pizza. Now if you are looking for something that truly tastes like pizza, made from whole ingredients without some fancy machinery and lots of time, please tell me the secret because in my opinion, you can replace the crust or replace the cheese but not both at the same time. When I am giving myself a break from Whole30 and eating dairy or gluten every so often, I place the faux cheese on a real crust or real cheese on faux crust, and voila, healthier pizza that tastes like pizza. This is a very tasty Whole30 compliant oooey gooey dairy-free faux mozz on a flourless, gluten-free, dairy-free cauliflower crust. It is tasty and satisfying and hits the spot on Friday night pizza night.

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Not all pizza is good, but when you find the right slice….um, I lost my train of thought while drooling. Since leaving New York for sunnier climates on the left coast, I have been experimenting with pizza quite a bit because to be honest, I haven’t found the right slice. I have found amazing pizza places that are great with wood-fired ovens and lovely crusts, but I haven’t found a joint that I can walk into an order a mouth watering slice (the question “a slice of what?” irritates the displaced New Yorker in me). And rather than spend an arm and a leg on pizza at these trendy wood-fired pizza places, I started making my own.

Have stone, will travel. I bought a pizza stone and started playing with 100% whole-wheat dough, toppings, combinations and more. People think I am an extrovert, but I am the exact opposite – I have a hard time talking to people in big group settings, especially when full of people I don’t know. Since most parties in LA I was attending were in people’s homes, I started to travel with my stone, dough and other ingredients. It gave me something to do and brought people to me to talk, rather than me trying to insert myself into a conversation. Everyone wants to eat and talk about pizza.

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One year at burning man, in 2011, I camped with some new friends who created the theme camp “Space & Thyme” – the camp delivered pizzas to people who had placed an order in the future. One of the members built a pizza oven specifically for the playa. As the days got hotter, as hot as 102 degrees, people did not want to fire up the oven. But the heat fueled my fire to make pizza. Sun, fire and pizza. It was my calling.

1503224_10151792094120793_626428513_nThat week in 2011, I came alive. That fall, when I earned a bonus at work, I decided to forgo the responsible side of me to use the money to pay bills and bought a wood burning pizza oven.

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I made beautiful pizzas.

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I became the pizza ninja.

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Oh pizza.

As you can see, pizza is a serious part of my life. We have pizza night, making pizza on our stone indoor or firing up the oven, with my daughter at least once a week. She loves to stretch her own dough and assemble a mini pizza. She knows when she is cooking for me in her pretend kitchen that “mama likes pizza.”

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As I said, I refuse to miss out just because I am on Whole 30. So I made pizza my way. Whole food based, protein-full, gluten-free, dairy-free goodness.

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Cauliflower crusts are something I have been playing with for years, but many recipes often involve cheese as a binder to increase moisture. They require cooking and squeezing water and nutrients out of the cauliflower and can sometimes feel heavier than a real thin crust pizza. Over the years I have perfected my crust using fresh shredded cauliflower (no cooking or squeezing), flax seed, pine nuts, spices and egg as a binder (I made this using egg, but you can make this vegan by using a flax egg – it works perfectly!)

Simply shred the raw cauliflower (I use a food processor or you can grate by hand) -mix it all the ingredients together with the egg. I grind flax fresh to preserve nutrients but you can buy ground flax. Place some coconut flour onto a warm pizza stone. Or prepare a piece of parchment paper or silpat by brushing some oil. Form small mounds of the mix and press down gently until evenly distributed and round. I keep them small so the disc is easy to lift and flip.

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Bake for 20 min and flip. The underside is not as pretty but it is just to dry up the bottom of the crust.

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Bake for another 10 min and flip back over and set aside.

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I  clean the stone of the coconut flour for when I am ready to assemble the pizza. These crusts can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

For the faux mozz, puree soaked cashew nuts, nutritional yeast, tapioca starch, salt, garlic, water and lemon juice until smooth. Pour into a small sauce pan. Cook over low heat with frequent stirring.

At first the mixture will become gloppy and lumpy but keep stirring and it will smooth out. Remove from heat. It will thicken as it cools if you want a mozz like texture that breaks apart. It can also be stored in the fridge for a week. However, if you place the cheese straight from the pot as it finishes cooking on the pizza to bake, it more closely resembles real pizza cheese. I let it cool as I tend to make the parts at separate times.

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For the sauce, you can make a traditional pizza sauce or you can make a veggieful tomato sauce pureed so it is thin or a kale nut pesto (thinned out with water or olive oil) or an almond indian spinach. I also made a butternut squash sauce with a pureed butternut squash cooked with a veggie stock, cayenne, salt and pepper. Top it will all sorts of toppings – sauteed chard and onions, red onion and nutshroom faux meatballs and broccolini, mushrooms, or whatever you want.

Assemble the crust on the stone or baking dish, top with sauce, toppings and cheese.

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Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes or until cheese is slightly brown. Transfer to another dish.

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Then cut.

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And eat.

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Whole 30 compliant pizza for Friday night pizza night. Happy Eating!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cauliflower Crust

  • 1/2 head cauliflower – about 2 cups shredded cauliflower
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbs ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan  salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • coconut flour, for baking

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and place pizza stone in the oven or prepare parchment or silpat on a baking tray. Place half the cauliflower in the food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and place in a bowl. Add pine nuts, garlic, ground flax, oregano, salt, pepper and eggs. Mix together until fully combined. Put some coconut flour on the pizza stone or lightly place oil on the parchment or silpat. Place a handful or so of the mix into a small mound and flatten with the hand to make it circular and evenly distributed. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from stone or tray.

Nut Based Dairy-Free Faux Mozz

  • 1/2 C. raw cashews
  • 1 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • 3  Tbs tapioca flour
  • 1/2  tsp sea salt
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Soak cashews and pine nuts in room temperature water for 3 hours or hot water for 15-20 minutes and then drain. Blend all ingredients together in a blender until completely smooth, about 1-5 minute depending on the power of the blender until smooth and blended. Pour into a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will separating – becoming gloppy or curdled – but this is normal. Keep cooking and stirring until very thick (about 5 min) and starts to become gooey and stretchy – like a thick roux or paste. Remove from heat – it is ready to eat.

 

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