When I first started the ketogenic-diet, I thought “that’s it – you’ll never have pizza again!”. A period of food-mourning ensued, but now I’ve welcomed it back with open arms; and as always, it’s a true pleasure greeting familiar old friends! How can you eat pizza on a low-carb diet? Cauliflower pizza-base. Yes, that’s right; you’ve read it correctly: cauliflower!
I was a little sceptical when I first read about this. It sounded complicated, fiddly and didn’t overly promise much on the taste front… But having tried it, I’m now a firm convert! It’s no more labour-intensive than any other pizza-recipe; in fact, it’s a little bit easier, as there’s no faffing around with yeast or flouring kitchen-surfaces to roll out the base &tc.
Is it exactly the same as traditional flour-based pizza? Not exactly, but that in no way diminishes it; it’s simply different. The topping tastes just the same as you’d expect; the one difference is that the base isn’t ‘crisp’ like wood-fired pizza; it’s more chewy and firm in texture; which is certainly good enough for me. Any way, to be able to eat pizza without the associated ‘food-guilt’ is a wonderful thing. Second helpings? No problem with this recipe!
Diabetics, paleo-fans and those with a gluten-intolerance can also throw open the doors to this old favourite, because the carb-content is incredibly low. There’s no flour, no ‘bloat’, no soaring blood-sugars and no insulin-ramping to worry about – just delicious healthy food (I never thought I’d be saying that about pizza!!).
Start by making the base. Half a large cauliflower will make 1 dinner-plate sized pizza. Being me, I used two whole cauliflowers as I wanted some leftovers for lunch the next day. Pulse your cauliflower florets in a food processor until you have the consistency of breadcrumbs. Then simply place this into a large mixing-bowl and microwave for circa 8 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked through. This staves off moisture and cooks the vegetables through, so that the base doesn’t go into the oven ‘from raw’. Depending on your microwave, check after 6 minutes to see how things are going. To test that it’s done, taste a bit. You don’t want it to be cooked to point of being mooshy; just ‘biteable’ without the texture of rawness. When this is achieved, stir through to dissipate the heat and leave to cool down thoroughly.
At this point, start on your topping. Finely chop an onion and sauté this in olive oil with chopped garlic until the onion turns translucent. Ramp up the heat and deglaze the pan with a glug of red wine or port. If you wish to add peppers or other vegetables, feel free to do so; but all you really need is a can of tomatoes. Empty this into the pan once the liquid has been added. Season well and stir in chopped herbs and a vegetable stock-cube. Leave this on a low simmer until the contents reduce, then add a squeeze of tomato-purée. Hey presto; your sauce is done. Leave this also to stand for 20 minutes to cool down slightly.
No let the grating begin! Start with parmesan. Finely grate a good couple of handfuls for the base, then however much cheese you feel is gratuitously acceptable for the topping! Transfer these to a bowl until you’re ready to use them.
Now for the base. Add your parmesan cheese and season the cauliflower liberally. Next time I do this, I think I’ll add more parmesan than I used for this particular batch. Why? It’s the parmesan which melts and ‘firms up’ to give the base its crispness. I get the feeling that more parmesan will deliver more ‘bite’. Give it a go and let me know how you get on! Next beat some eggs in a bowl and add these slowly. I used 4 eggs for 2 cauliflower heads. You want the mix to be ‘shapeable’, not soggy. Picture the texture of cooled porridge! Pile the mix onto a silicone baking-sheet or greaseproof paper and pat into your desired shape, at about a 1/3 cm thickness. You don’t need a rolling-pin, just use your hands. The mix is not ‘elastic’ like a flour-base, so there’s no stretch. All you need do is ensure a thin covering across your surface area, and you’re done! The top picture was a square base, to cut up for lunch the next day. The picture below was the first ’round’ one (we made two of these for dinner – one each!).
When your base is the required shape, spoon on your tomato-topping and gently spread flat with the back of a spoon. Then pile on whatever keto-friendly ingredients you see fit! This dish is great for using up any bits and bobs you have lying around the fridge which are insufficient in quantity to ‘stand on their own two feet’. I used sliced mushrooms, courgette, mozarella, ham, salami, chorizo, peppers, olives and chilli. Whatever you use, chop the ingredients finely so that they’ll cook through nice and quickly, then scatter across the surface of your pizza.
Top the lot with generous handfuls of grated cheese, sprinkle on a few dried herbs then transfer the pizza with a paddle (if you have one) to the base of the oven. I have an aga, so I cooked this on the floor of the oven. You can equally use a pizza-stone, a slab of marble preheated in the oven, or simply a baking-tray. Make sure that the oven is good and hot, then in goes the pizza for 10 minutes until the top is bubbling, melted and golden brown, and the base is cooked through and caramelised around the edges.
Hey presto, your low-carb pizza is ready! Cut into slices at the table, or fold into wedges whilst watching a favourite film! Either way, it’s absolutely delicious! You won’t be disappointed!
Browse this and other recipes by picture on my pinterest page: country walks in ketosis pinterest.
Thanks for reading and bon ap!