Cauliflower and Zucchini Mini Pizzas
Yields: 8 – 10 mini pizzas Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 1 hour
Using cauliflower and zucchini as main components in this dish makes it a healthier and gluten free alternative to bread dough, yet keeps the flavors reminiscent of your favorite pizza. High in vitamins, minerals and plant nutrients (phytochemicals), the extra vegetables also give an automatic nutrition boost to an old favorite.
1 cup zucchini, shredded, tightly packed
4 cups raw cauliflower, chopped
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup cornmeal, fine or medium grind
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
For plain cheese:
1 cup marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Dried Italian seasoning
**Addition toppings – cheese, vegetables, olives, meat, whatever you choose!
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Steam cauliflower and set aside when soft, letting cool while you work on the next steps.
3. Shred the zucchini, squeezing and draining as much liquid as possible. When you measure out the 1 cup, make sure it is tightly packed without any excess liquid.
4. Combine zucchini and cauliflower in a food processor and process for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until crumbly – not completely pureed.
5. In a separate bowl, combine cauliflower and zucchini mixture with Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, eggs, cornmeal, salt and olive oil. Mix well.
6. Scoop about 1/2 cup in your palm and flatten out into a disc on a parchment or silicone lined baking pan, about 1/4 inch thick. Bake at 425 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, or until lightly brown.
7. Remove from the oven, and then add a thin layer of your favorite sauce, cheese or other desired toppings. (My kids prefer the basic, 1 – 2 tablespoons of their favorite marinara sauce, a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, and a dash of Italian seasoning.) Bake again for another 6-8 minutes or so at 425 degrees, until the cheese is melted.
8. An important part is to let these cool. When hot, the cheese is soft. Let cool, and serve.
While this may seem like a time consuming recipe, it really is not – especially when you’re not trying to take pictures at every step!
Cauliflower as a crust is nothing new, as I have been making it myself for a while. After many variations and different flours, even no flour, I have settled on this recipe. It is a hit for us, and I feel satisfied as I watch the family eat these up – myself included!
I chose cornmeal, as many pizzas are cornmeal crust pizzas, so it works well. Additionally, I just like adding zucchini, as it breaks up any monotony from just the cauliflower. Zucchini also adds a textural variation, which I feel makes it a much more appetizing crust.
As I mentioned above, cauliflower crusts are not new, and I have even seen some recipes that use incredible amounts of cheese and egg in this crust without any grains or other base, which to me, takes away a lot of the health benefits of using vegetables in the crust. You might as well have a thin crust whole wheat pizza dough, and call it a day.
Another change I made from my original recipe is I made these “mini pizzas”. I used to make it as one large pizza, and it was challenging to cook the middle as efficiently as the outside. Plus, it’s great portion control as well as ingredient control. Meaning, if someone likes mushrooms and another prefers olives, no conflict, just make yours the way you want!
These are great for a family party or other event, as you can make the crusts a little bit ahead of time, and then top and bake when you are ready to serve. They would be a great appetizer, simply made much smaller.
As I mentioned above, cooling is ideal as the cheese becomes more solid then soft and gooey. By no means is it mandatory, as my 8 year old can’t wait for them to cool before scarfing them down. (Neither can my husband!) These are also excellent the next day, so having a few extra in the fridge have been such a great snack after school and before basketball practice.
*This post was originally posted January 6, 2016 and has been updated February 13, 2017.