Psssst. . .come here. You want in on a secret? You want the recipe for the BEST tasting gluten-free pizza crust that will EVER pass your lips? Ok — well, listen — this crust is NOT really a secret. In fact, it’s been posted on countless sites BUT not with this method — I do one thing different from everybody else but this one thing, makes ALL the difference. So if you’ve tried a crust like this before and had it FAIL because it ended up soggy or you had to eat it with a fork, stay tuned for the recipe and the one simple change that makes all the difference.
Gluten-Free Pizza Crust: A Journey
Going gluten-free has been a challenge for me, to say the least. Not so much because I absolutely NEED wheat in my life but because I just NEED the freedom and variety to cook and eat what I like and have it taste good. Going gluten-free and cutting down on starchy carbs in general, leaves one feeling like “Oh, are we eating grilled meat with veg again, tonight?” I mean where’s the fun in that? (And BTW, for a confirmed foodie this is akin to death.)
My family likes pizza — what family doesn’t really, right? And before our little trek into minimum carb city in the province of gluten-free, I would make homemade pizza around once a week (usually on a Friday as a special “we’re heading for the weekend” treat!)
Now, there are those that will say pizza is bad for you, high in fat and calories, etc, etc but in my house we choose to believe that REAL food is not bad for you (if eaten in the proper portions.) Still, when I made pizza, I worked hard to find just the right homemade pizza crust recipe for our tastes (we like thin, slightly floppy, chewy, sorta NY style pizza crust — no deep dish or crunchy crust versions in our house.)
But I also wanted it to be the best possible version nutritionally, for my family — so I developed a whole wheat version and it was the yummiest but NOT gluten-free. We top our pizzas with things like vodka sauce, nitrate-free prosciutto and chicken breast and after it emerges, golden and bubbly from the oven, we liked to pile it high with fresh arugula like they do in Italy.
Sometimes, we kick it old skool with nitrate-free pepperoni or ham and pineapple, or veggies and Italian sausage. I never felt bad about these pizzas because I NEVER over-top a pizza (it ruins the flavor balance and your ability to hoist it to your mouth without a mess) and I always choose the best ingredients, in their most healthful incarnations for my family. But when we went gluten-free, well — we all missed pizza night.
I tried a myriad of gluten-free pizza crust recipes and mixes and though some of them were passable, as “true pizza crust,” none of them matched the texture my family likes in a crust. *sigh*
A Whole Food Solution
It doesn’t matter if you using gluten-free flour or whole wheat flour, if you’re using flour — it’s not as whole a food as it could be. That’s why my gluten-free chocolate cupcakes taste better than ANY that use flour — because instead of flour, I use quinoa (not quinoa flour but quinoa.) Because of this success, I have been looking for foods in their more whole forms to replace items that are carb-y before resorting to their flour-y or starch-y counterparts. We accomplished it with taco night (you’ll see how in next week’s post) and I was determined to make it happen here.
Which is why, when I came across cauliflower pizza crust on the interwebs (truly it’s EVERYWHERE!) my interest was more than piqued. But upon viewing the pics or reading the comments, the same problem kept being mentioned, you have to eat it with a fork or you have to make sure not to make the crust too thin and some versions just plain looked yucky. Still I decided to forge on — the basic ingredient list does not change from recipe to recipe (except for your choice of seasonings) but the process varies some, mostly depending upon whether you have a microwave or not. (I do not.)
Necessity is the Mother of Experimentation
Here’s the thing — I wanted to try this crust out but I wanted a thin crust and I didn’t want to steam my cauliflower and then put it through a ricer. I also didn’t have a microwave, which nearly everyone who makes this crust counsels you to use because of the fact that moisture is pulled from the food instead of locked in, like with steaming. But I wondered — what if I didn’t precook the cauliflower at all? What if I just cut it fine enough to begin with that all it would need is the basic oven cooking time to cook through?
Instead of messing about — I did just that. I grabbed an organic head of cauliflower from and I cut it up and fed it through my processor, using the grating blade. Very little actually gets grated, you see, instead the floret crumbles into a ton of tiny pieces and any stem large enough will then be shredded fine like cheese.
Then, I assembled the rest of the ingredients, pretty much in line with every recipe out there, and the result was a beautiful pizza, that the whole family loved (my son ate the whole thing and he usually picks his toppings off ANY crust!) It was thin, chewy, slightly floppy and we could pick it up with our hands just like the real deal NYC style (gluten-free) pizza — YUM!
One Problem: It’s so good and SO easy (much easier than making pizza dough) that we’ve had it three times already in 2 weeks! I’m sure we’ll taper down once we get all caught up on the pizza Fridays we missed. *wink*
Whole Food (Gluten-Free) Cauliflower Pizza Crust
- 2 cups raw shredded cauliflower
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1tsp garlic salt
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
- Baking parchment
- 1 to 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 425 °F. Tear off enough baking parchment to cover your pizza pan, trim to size and shape of your pan. Combine ALL ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until completely incorporated.
Dump the contents onto your baking parchment trying to lay it out evenly upon the center of the paper. Then, press the crust out in the desired thickness (this will also determine its width– our thin crust makes a 12 inch pizza.) Be sure to follow the shape of your pan and create a smooth edge for a “true” pizza experience (the more something looks right, the better your brain is at accepting the substitution — if it’s good!)
Rub the 1 to 2 tsp of olive oil on your hands and then pat the top of your pizza crust, making sure to get all of it. (I’m sure you could use a non-stick cook spray here too, just be sure not to put too much oil on top.)
Bake, the crust only, in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden browned. Remove from oven and add the sauce and toppings of your choice (we used ham and fresh sliced, Fair Trade pineapple to really make our pizza sing!)
TIP: Be sure not to overload your pizza with toppings — not only for flavor but stability.
Pop it in the oven (on broil) for 2 to 3 minutes or just until the cheese is melted, golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit for just a moment or two to allow the cheese to congeal (the way you would with any pizza) before cutting and serving.
Wanna Read more about what Fair Trade Pineapple is and what it means to the people who grow your food? Check out this great piece on The Whole Story (Whole Foods Blog).