Maybe Perfect Healthy Pizza

Cauliflower crust pizza! Ruler of Pintrest, holy grail of paleo, deeply unlikely idea. WHY AM I DOING THIS?

Pizza is hands down my favourite food. I bloody LOVE it, especially really dirty, Dominoes-style takeaway pizza, with double cheese and a pot of saturated fat on the side to dip my crusts in. Yeeeeeeeeah! But as I am also on a bit of a mission to put some good food habits in place and wrestle my BMI down into the green zone, I’ve decided this type of pizza can only really be a monthly kinda deal. But that is clearly not often enough!! I need more pizza than that! So, to Pinterest…

I’ve tried this before, and the pizza stuck so determinedly to the baking parchment I had to sort of eat around it, gnawing at shards of paper sadly, like a disney mouse. But, determined not to be foiled (or parchmented) again, I took some tips (looking at you, Caroline) and read a load of recipes, and came up with this – the Maybe Perfect Healthy Pizza.

So I should give you a heads up before we begin – this recipe is difficult, and it takes FOREVER. It is SO labour intensive, it’s something you should only attempt if you actually enjoy cooking, and if you have some wine and a companion, or at least a really decent podcast you want to catch up on. This took us well over an hour, and there were two of us. Having said that, it was fun! But approach this more in the spirit of a craft project than a simple supper, ok?

Maybe Perfect Healthy Pizza

Set your oven to 200 C

For the base

1 cauliflower

2 eggs

Half a ball of low fat mozzarella

About 35g of parmesan

Seasonings (I used salt, smoked garlic powder and italian herb mix)

For the sauce

1 can chopped tomatoes

A good squidge of tomato puree

Balsamic vinegar

Seasonings (salt, loads of pepper, smoked garlic powder and dried chilli)

For the toppings

Half an aubergine

1 red pepper

A fair bit of chorizo

The other half of the ball of low fat mozzarella (and if you like, another ball – depends how cheesy you like your pizza/how much of a priority keeping it low fat is. I used two).

So, first up, take your cauliflower. Detatch the leaves, but keep as much stalk as possible, and cut into hunks. Whizz in a food processor (in batches probably) until it looks like this –

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Now, if you don’t have a food processor, you can grate it, but this is not as good and adds more faff to what is already a bloody laborious process. If you have a food processor but it’s at the back of the cupboard and you can’t be bothered to get it out – seriously, be bothered.

Whack the cauliflower in a big bowl and stick it in the microwave for about 7 mins. Now would be a good time to pour yourself a glass of wine! Just saying.

Also, this is a good time to get the sauce on, because it must simmer. I can’t believe how easy this sauce is – and it tastes awesome. Awesome sauce!! Just blend all the ingredients together and stick them in a pan to simmer on a low heat for as long as it takes to get the other elements ready. You want it to reduce as much as possible – in this recipe, liquid is the enemy.

When the cauliflower is microwaved, dump it out onto an extremely clean tea towel and let it cool a bit. When it’s cool enough to handle, set about trying to squeeze as much water out of the cauliflower mush as you possibly can. I found the best way was to twist the tea towel so the mush was encased in a ball at one end, and squash it against the sink, over and over and over again. This part is SO ARDUOUS AND ANNOYING, but you absolutely must do it, to the very best of your ability. If you don’t, your pizza will be a soggy mess and you won’t be able to instagram it and that would be super sad.

See? ARDUOUS AND ANNOYING.

Turn your desiccated hunk of cauliflower into a bowl and grate over the mozzarella half and your parmesan. Add the seasonings and the eggs and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined.

Now, two eggs is actually too much for this quantity, and one not enough. If you are the kind of person who will patiently whisk up two eggs and carefully pour in the right amount, reserving the half egg for perhaps tomorrows omelette, good for you! I am not. I just put up with it being not quite the right consistency.

Put a sheet of baking parchment on a baking tray and spray it all over with spray oil. This is IMPORTANT, do not skip this bit!!! It will stick and be awful. Then kind of pat down your cauliflower mixture over it until it is reasonably flat and stick it in the oven. Set your phone alarm to ten minutes and maybe have another glass of wine.

When the ten minutes is up, get the crust out of the oven, spray the top with oil and flip it over. I know! Tiresome. It will be difficult, and hot, but you must because this is the secret important step that stops it sticking. Sorry. I used another sheet of baking parchment and sort of flopped it down on the counter, but do this however you think best. Back in the oven for another ten minutes.

In the spare waiting-about minutes while all of this is going on, you must prepare the toppings. If you have followed my advice and recruited a companion, get them to slice up the chorizo, aubergine and peppers while you are dealing with the cauliflower. Here is Paul, looking like he has joined a weird meat slicing cult.

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He was vegetarian when he met me. Poor boy.

Once they are all sliced, the veg need frying (or griddling, if you’re fancy like I am) and setting aside. You should also slice your mozzarella. If you can be arsed, it might be a good idea to pat it dry with kitchen towel (because liquid is the enemy) but I could not be arsed.

When the base is done (it will be a pleasing mottled brown colour) assemble your sauce, veg, meat and cheese atop it so it looks a bit like this –

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Then bake it for about 20 mins more, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and browned. If you have done your water-dodging, oil spraying and pizza flipping work earlier, it will slide easily from its parchment like a slippery little angel. If not, you are screwed.

Cut into slices (pro tip – use scissors) and dump on a plate with a handful of salad leaves –

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And serve with pride and smugness!

Despite being A Pain to make, this pizza really is awesome. It’s proper, full-before-the-last-slice stodgy comfort food, but mostly made out of vegetables. It was NEARLY as nice as Dominoes, guys, and I don’t say that lightly. Not lightly at all.

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