Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mexican Pizza with a Cauliflower Crust

I know I've said in the past that I'm not really fan of pizza, and that I can't even remember the last time I ordered it from a restaurant, and all that's true.  Still, I have to admit that I've been kind of curious about, and have been really wanting to make a cauliflower pizza crust.  Its just that I've been seeing so many recipes on Pinterest for cauliflower pizza crusts, breadsticks, calzones, etc. and I've ended up pinning a bunch of different versions due to the fact that each one looks absolutely scrumptious!

Now that I've actually made it, let me just tell you that my predictions were 100% correct.  This pizza crust was so incredibly delicious!

The reason I always tend to avoid pizza is because of all the empty carbohydrates that are found in the crust.  However, by choosing to make the pizzas myself and substituting cauliflower for the crust, instead of using traditional flour, I knew that it would be healthier and was therefore willing to eat it.

This recipe actually makes 2 small, round pizzas.  Each pizza, depending on how much cheese you put on it, is between 450-500 calories.  And that's for the whole pizza, which is very filling!  Keeping that in mind, think of how many calories are in an average Lean Cuisine meal, and that's something that comes frozen.  This pizza is completely fresh.  Not only that, but there are only about 25 grams of carbohydrates and around 47 grams of protein.  Once again, that's in the whole pizza, and you don't have to eat it all at once, unless of course you want to!

It's always nice when you can make a comfort food healthy!

Sorry that the pictures of this meal may not be my best, but I promise that it's delicious!

Mexican Pizza with a Cauliflower Crust

For the Crust:
1 head of cauliflower
¼ - ½ cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ - 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

For the Sauce:
1 15 oz. can, no salt added tomato sauce
1 package hot and spicy taco seasoning (Old El Paso)
¼ - ½ tsp. cumin

For the Pizza:
½ cup fat free refried beans
1 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Grilled chicken pieces (You don’t have to, but I seasoned mine with a little chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper)
Prepared sauce

Optional Toppings:
Black Olives
Green Onions
Red or Green Bell Peppers

For the Crust:
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, drizzle on and spread out a little olive oil, and then set aside.

Rice the cauliflower florets in a food processor, make sure to not puree it.  If you are unsure how this is done, follow this link for a video.  Once the cauliflower has been riced, transfer to a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for about 8 minutes, or until cooked.  Once done, you will need to drain all the excess water out of the cauliflower.  I did this by placing paper towel in a colander, dumping in the cauliflower, and pressing down.  Be careful though, because the cauliflower is very hot.  I ended up going through quite a few pieces of paper towel, due to the fact that it’s very important to get out all the water, otherwise your crust is going to be soggy instead of crispy.  And let’s be honest…..who likes a soggy pizza crust?

After the cauliflower has been drained of all the water and appears dry, place it in a bowl.  Add in the egg, cheese, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Mix well.  I used my clean hands to just knead it all together and it worked well.  Once it’s been combined, break the “dough” into two pieces and work it into small round circles on the prepared baking sheet, by pressing it down, and shaping it with your hands.  After my pizza crust was shaped and ready, I ended up placing a paper towel over the top of each prepared circle, just to absorb some of the extra liquid.  After that, place the pan in the oven for exactly 10 minutes.

While the pizza is cooking, prepare the sauce.

For the Sauce:
In a microwave safe bowl, pour in the can of tomato sauce.  After that, add in the packet of taco seasoning and the cumin; then stir around until combined.  Microwave the sauce until just warm to the touch.  This should take 45 seconds to a minute.  Set aside. (You will definitely have leftover sauce, but it’s great to dip things in, and you can store it in the fridge)

Hint:  You might want to warm up the refried beans as well, to make them easier to spread.

To Assemble:
Once the 10 minutes is up and the crust is done, remove the pan from the oven. 

Now, spread on some of the refried beans (if you don’t use them all, it’s ok).  After that, top the beans with some of the sauce, followed by pieces of chicken and then the cheese.  Feel free to add on any additional toppings as well, after all, it’s your pizza.  Once the pizza(s) are assembled, place the pan back into the oven and let cook for an additional 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese is melted to your liking.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.  After that, transfer the pizza(s) to a plate and enjoy!

Source: Crust adapted from The Iron You


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