Wednesday, March 09, 2016


I believe it’s safe to call my journey toward becoming a cauliflower eater complete, having toured four of my favorite food groups—soup, fritters, pasta, and now pizza—with successful results. I don’t want to play favorites, but this powerhouse recipe from Bev Cooks (found via the Kitchn) is my current obsession. Cauliflower in its best form (crisp and toasty) gets an assist from umami-bursting browned mushrooms, slivers of red onion, savory herbs, plenty of cheese, and, just to flirt with gilding the lily, a crust bathed in roasted garlic oil. Anyone still think vegetables are boring?

I made two slight improvements on the original, to help balance out all the earthiness: adding red pepper flakes for a welcome pop of brightness and heat, and complementing the creamy mozzarella with a sharper cheese—Parmesan on my first try and, even better, Pecorino Romano the second time around. I’m also going to note that you really should use fresh mozzarella here; I usually find it too watery for pizza and opt for the aged, low-moisture kind, but since the other ingredients in this case are fairly dry, the extra juiciness is welcome.

I’m especially grateful for this recipe because it wouldn’t otherwise have occurred to me to combine cauliflower with mushrooms, but maybe that just goes to show what a cauliflower newbie I am. Clearly, further experimentation is still needed!

1 pound pizza dough
1 medium cauliflower head, broken into florets
½ pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2-3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
10ish fresh sage leaves
6 large garlic cloves, in their skins
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
Salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
½ cup shredded Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
5-8 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.
  2. Place the mushrooms on one baking sheet, and the cauliflower florets on another. Nestle the garlic cloves in with the veggies. Sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and pepper, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, sprinkle with fresh thyme and sage leaves, and toss well (make sure the garlic cloves in particular are well coated with oil).
  3. Roast the mushrooms for 30 minutes and the cauliflower for 45, or until you get some good roasted color all over. Remove pans from oven and set aside. Increase oven heat to 450.
  4. Using tongs, fish out the garlic and press the cloves out of their skins into a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and mash into a paste.
  5. Roll out the pizza dough on a floured work surface and transfer to an oiled or cornmeal-dusted baking sheet. Evenly brush the garlic oil over the crust and par-bake for 2 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle Romano or Parmesan over the crust, and evenly top with the roasted mushrooms, cauliflower (don’t forget all the herbs on the baking sheets! I crumble the crispy sage leaves with my fingers and scatter it over the pizza) and red onion. Finish with the mozzarella and bake another 12 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly, and the dough is cooked through.
Serves: 4
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Leftover potential: Good.

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