Cauliflower, Fennel, Side Dishes, Vegetables

Tales Of Woe – “The one with the Cauliflower…”

The other week I picked up several (read that as fiveheads of cauliflower. Do I love cauliflower? … yes, yes I do.
But that isn’t the point of this tale.

No, the poking and prodding to  stock up, as it were, was my nagging little inner voice concerning that absurd thing called  The Cauliflower Pizza Crust.
If I were to believe the reams of articles and post comments on this anomaly…
If I were to believe everything they tell me on the internettyweb-o-matic (because they can’t put anything there that isn’t true)…
If I had absolutely zero taste buds…

– then this would be the be-all-to-end-all in non gluten pizza crusts.

It isn’t.
And “it isn’t” a lot of things…. good – being first and foremost.
It isn’t crisp like 50 of the recipes would have you to believe. I couldn’t cook it long enough or hot enough to make it crisp.
No, it isn’t just like pizza crust. It’s like dried out, over-cooked cauliflower. And there’s not enough sauce, toppings, cheese-like substance to make you think it is.
It reminds me of when I was a kid, and Jane was on the original Weight Watchers. They told those poor women that you  could heat up canned bean sprouts, top them with tomato sauce, and…

 ” It tastes just like spaghetti!”

Well… it didn’t. And the cauliflower pizza crust doesn’t taste like anything but cauliflower – which is okay… I guess.
But don’t call it pizza crust. Call it pizza toppings on a weird-ass cauliflower hash. You’re likely to be less disappointed at the waste of a perfectly good cauliflower…. and all that sauce and toppings.

*  *  *
I’ll leave that thought for a while and we’ll return to it next week. Because, I’ve torn the recipe down to the basic roots of the thing and built a better crust. I’d give it to you today… but I’ve kind of overdosed on the pizza thingy and really can’t stomach going into it now.

However – I will leave you with one of the  ad nauseum recipes if you want to see what all the fuss was about.
I’ve randomly pulled the first one that showed up in a Google search for cauliflower pizza crust – so no real hate going on for that particular author – she just happened to have the most hits on it (and her recipe really isn’t any different than any of the others out there.) It’s over at One Good Thing By Jillee, and you can find it < HERE >

Instead, We’re going to do a couple of other things with all those leftover lumpy heads.

Warm Cauliflower and Fennel Salad
Serves 4
Ingredients
1 Head Cauliflower – Cut into Florets
1 Fennel Bulb – Thinly Sliced (or Shaved)
4 Radishes – Thinly Sliced
1/4 Cup Chopped Parsley
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Large Zipper Bag
Large Mixing Bowl
Lemon Vinaigrette:

1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1 Shallot – Minced
1 Teaspoon Coarse Mustard
Zest from 1 Lemon
1/4 Teaspoon Honey
Small Mixing Bowl
Whisk

Place the florets and shaved fennel in the zipper bag and microwave on high for 3 minutes
While the  micro is going, make the vinaigrette – place all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until homogenized
Note – I recommend microwaving, instead of blanching or steaming, just to keep the moisture level down. water cooking will add too much liquid to your finished dressing and result in a waterier salad.
Transfer the micro’d veg to the large bowl and toss in the dressing
Coat everything well
just before serving, add the sliced radishes, salt and pepper, and parsley – toss well

Cauliflower and Bacon Gratin
Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients
1 Head Cauliflower – Broken into Florets
3 Strips Bacon
1/2 Sweet Onion – Sliced (about 1/2 Cup)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Flour
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Chicken Stock
1 Cup Grated White Cheddar
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Cup Fresh Bread Crumbs
1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Salt
A Good Pinch Nutmeg
9″ Pyrex Baking Dish
1 Large Zipper Bag
1 Large Sauce Pan
Whisk

Preheat the oven to 375
Place the cauliflower, salt and pepper in the zipper bag and microwave on high for 2 minutes – Set aside
In the sauce pan, saute the bacon and onions on high heat until the bacon is browned and the onions are translucent

Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour to the pot – stir in quickly to prevent lumping
Gradually add the milk while stirring – continue stirring until the sauce begins to thicken then add the chicken stock
Once the sauce re-thickens, remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 of the cheddar cheese

Add the cauliflower to the pot and gently fold in to coat

Transfer the coated cauliflower to the baking dish and create a single layer
Mix the remaining cheese with the bread crumbs and top the gratin
Bake at 375 for 30 minutes

2 Comments

  1. You may just be my cauliflower soul mate. Funny thing is I have cauliflower cooking in the oven right now (Saffron Cauliflower from Ottolenghi's Plenty – which incidentally is smelling absolutely amazing as it cooks), and thought I'd sit and do a bit of catching up on my favourite blogs while the cauliflower does its own wonderous thing in the oven. Now I can't wait to try that salad with the fennel and radish – I think that will be perfect with the other half of my cauliflower tomorrow night :-)Simply cannot imagine the cauliflower pizza crust. I've never come across it, but thankfully I've read your warning before I did, otherwise I might have been tempted to try it.

  2. Still fenneling with the cauliflower salad? I want to try that. The gratin looks pretty good too (anything with bacon is good!).

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