There’s this whole cauliflower craze that entered my radar last year thanks to the sheer genius of it. Who would’ve thought you could turn cauliflower into some sort of super ingredient to make a gazillion things?! The recipes I’ve bookmarked so far are all adaptations of calorie-heavy dishes (eg. white-sauce alfredo pasta, rice dishes, and pizza) because I’m curious to see how the heck you can transform cauliflower and incorporate it into these dishes. I don’t expect it to taste exactly the same as the original, but health benefits aside, would it actually taste good? Would it feel or look even remotely like what it’s supposed to mimic? How much effort does it even take?
To quell all the questions, there was really only one thing to do: try it out it!
Deciding to use pizza as the springboard for this experimentation– I sound like a mad scientist haha!– was a pretty easy decision. First of all I’m always in the mood for it. Secondly, I feel like it would be the simplest and easiest recipe to try. Plus I could customize the topping and make it a favourite flavour, just in case I don’t end up liking the cauliflower crust. Well the good news is I did like the cauliflower crust, so it ended up being a double whammy!
I admit I’m a bit of a sucker for these kinds of things. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with finding ways to incorporate healthier ingredients into my baking and cooking. A big part of it might have to do with the fact that I’m a very guilty eater– always trying to eat depending on how much I’ve worked out; or sometimes planning to workout a little extra if I have indulged in more than I’m comfortable with. Of course I can’t say these healthified dishes turn out the exact same way as the real thing, but in most cases they are close enough. And in many other cases they end up being different, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This was certainly different. A healthy Chicken BBQ pizza for a change right?
I feel like there might be some raised eyebrows at the idea of using cauliflower. If you’re wondering about the taste, actually you can’t really taste the cauliflower in the crust. Cauliflower is fairly flavourless to begin with, so it’s easy to adapt into other dishes. It’s like a chameleon ingredient. This crust is flavoured with olive oil and Italian seasoning, and that’s the predominant taste of the crust itself. The BBQ sauce I used to coat the chicken is the family favourite Kraft brand. And then you add the onions and cilantro, plus the mozzarella– you know, everything that makes a pizza damn good– and you won’t even notice the cauliflower crust.
Oh, and if you’re going to feed it to the kids, do you really need to tell them it’s made from cauliflower? Hehe!
The only problem I actually had when I made this was how my crust turned out. It was really soft, with a texture more cornbread than crust.
I might’ve placed too much of the pizza “dough” into my small pan. I guess I didn’t bake it as long as I should have, or maybe the mixture I placed in my small pizza pan was simply too thick. Maybe both actually. Yes, the apt description is that it did feel a bit more like a thin slice of cornbread with topping, which to me is still good since I like cornbread anyway.
I would suggest though for a more pizza-like crust, take it easy with the crust “dough” and don’t pour everything into the pan at once. To attain a thin-crusted crunchy bottom especially, make sure to spread just the right amount of batter, making sure the whole pizza pan is evenly covered with a fairly thin layer. You don’t want to put too little either so that the crust will still hold.
But even though the crust was a little less umm… crust-like than we’re used to, this pizza sold out pretty fast on the dinner table, if I do say so myself. I guess everybody was thinking that since this version is a healthy chicken BBQ pizza, another slice wouldn’t hurt!
Cauliflower-Crusted Chicken BBQ Pizza
For the crust
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped into medium pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ½ cup barbecue sauce
- 1 cup shredded cooked chicken
- ¾ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
- thinly sliced onions
- fresh cilantro
Make the crust
- 1. In a large skillet over high heat, add the oil and heat until shiny. Stir in the chopped cauliflower, making sure all the bits get covered with oil, then place a lid on the skillet.
- 2. Check skillet every few minutes to keep cauliflower from burning, but it's okay if it gets a bit browned outside. Continue to let cauliflower cook, covered, for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender-crisp. Let cool for a few minutes.
- 3. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
- 4. In a blender or large food processor, place eggs, cornmeal, and Italian seasoning. Blitz until combined, then add the cooked cauliflower. Puree until mixture is a semi-smooth, thick batter.
- 5. Cover a 12-inch pizza pan with parchment paper and pour some of the batter into the center of the paper. Spread the batter until you have about a 1/2-inch thick crust. Add more batter as necessary to cover the whole pan. You may also opt to use less batter for a thinner crust, if a more crunchy one is desired. (Make another pizza out of the leftover batter.)
- 6. Bake the crust for about 20 minutes (more or less depending on how thick your crust is), checking occasionally to keep it from burning. Bake until browned around the edges and crust is firm.
- 7. Coat chicken with barbecue sauce. Once crust is cooked through and golden brown, remove from oven. Immediately top with barbecue chicken, half the cheese, onions, then finish with the rest of the cheese.
- 8. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden. Top with cilantro. Slice and serve warm, with hot sauce on the side.
Have you heard of the whole cauliflower craze? Tell me what you think, or share an awesome recipe on the comments section below! 🙂