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Simple Sides: Cauliflower Pizza Crust!

Here’s a healthy recipe idea, minus the usual calorie-laden dough, that the whole family can have some fun making.
Image of recurring kids
Competing schedules in the day-to-day lives of a busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal together, but not impossible. In fact, with a little planning, cooking together can become a fun family event and learning opportunity. This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with one uncomplicated, healthy and delicious side dish recipe. The dishes will be centered on seasonal fresh produce items; the recipes will always contain tasks will allow even the youngest kitchen helper to contribute to the family meal. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability as well as to identify where adult attention might be especially needed.

Many of the recipes presented here will seem very basic -- this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will provide the culinary foundation and confidence to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their experience in the kitchen develops. Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a wonderful way to teach children some basic cooking skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all of your hearts forever.

The justification for presenting a pizza in a feature usually focused on a side dish built around a fresh produce item is, admittedly, about as thin as the cauliflower dough in the recipe. I came across this concept during an Internet search for an appropriate cauliflower dish and it was just too interesting to pass up. So, continuing with that iffy justification…since it is the holiday season, these healthy little pizzas could be sliced into small, bite-sized pieces, then served on a tray as an appetizer. There you have it…a side dish serving idea that qualifies the recipe for this feature!
Image of Organic Cauliflower
Who doesn’t like a pizza – and who doesn’t wish it wasn’t so fattening! Here’s a healthy recipe idea, minus the usual calorie-laden dough, that the whole family can have some fun making and enjoying together. The aim is to make a crust that is crispy enough to be eaten by hand without falling apart. There are a lot of dough-like recipes that use lots of eggs to pull this off, but this one opts for just a head of Cauliflower, a little cream cheese and only one egg. The recipe also has several hands-on tasks, like squeezing the moisture out of the cauliflower in cheesecloth and shaping the “dough” into rounds, that are the perfect assignment for the youngest of sous chefs.

Grating the cauliflower, using a box grater, is another easy task for a child of almost any age; it is also the key to getting a doughy texture, so make sure that your helper ends up with a very fine consistency. The first time I tried this recipe I admit to trying a short-cut. I just broke the head up into very small pieces instead of grating. I figured that the boiling would certainly soften the cauliflower enough to mash it smooth when the cream cheese was mixed in. Not – it baked up way too lumpy. Cut the head into halves and then quarters for easier handling by small hands.

Several cream cheese varieties were auditioned for this recipe – goat, ricotta and whipped cream cheese. The ricotta was a total failure that made a mess, not a dough. The goat cheese worked better and was very tasty, but it’s a little too pricey for everyday use. A low-fat whipped cream cheese made for the crispiest crust and has the least amount of calories. One tip: Bring the cream cheese to room temperature before your kitchen helpers start mixing it into the warm cauliflower, it make the job easier and assures that the two are mixed together thoroughly.

Topping choices are endless and a matter of taste; those suggested in the recipe are designed to replace the traditional pepperoni-sausage calories. Have fun with these crowning condiments and encourage each of your helpers to come up with their own healthy options.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Makes 4 small pizzas or 1 large pizza


1 medium-size Cauliflower, grated
5 ounces Low-Fat Cream Cheese
1 Egg, Salt and Black Pepper

Tomato Sauce
Olive oil
1 Perfect Sweet Onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
2 cups Roma Tomatoes, chopped
½ cup Fresh Basil, chopped (a handful)
Salt and Black Pepper

Topping suggestions:
Vine Sweet Mini Peppers, Soy Ground, sliced Mushrooms, sprinkled very lightly with a Low-Fat Mozzarella.

What the kids can do:
Image of Ingredients for Pizza Crust
Grate cauliflower for boiling.
Using cheesecloth, remove as much water as possible from cauliflower.
In a bowl, mix the grated cauliflower with the cream cheese and egg, and season.
Image of pizza dough patted into pie pans
Using fingers, pat the dough into pie pans covered in non-stick foil.
Image of Ingredients for tomato sauce
Tomato Sauce:
While the crusts are baking, heat the oil in a frying pan.
Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes.
Add the garlic and stir briefly, then add the tomatoes, basil and seasonings.
Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

When the crusts are done, spread a spoonful of tomato sauce on each.
Image of pizza crusts and ingredients for topping
Add toppings.
Sprinkle lightly with shredded Mozzarella.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Image of Cauliflower Crust Pizza
What the supervising adult should do:
Preheat oven to 400°. Once your helpers are finished with the grating, handle both boiling the cauliflower (5 minutes), as well as draining the hot water off through a colander. Be sure to cool down the cauliflower thoroughly before the kids start squeezing out the water, which can be very hot if done too soon. Of course, supervise wrapping the cauliflower in the cheesecloth and the squeezing process; getting as much moisture out as possible is key. For best results the pizza patties should be no more than a half-inch thick. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until firm and golden. Once the kids have finished with their toppings, bake the pizzas for 10 minutes at 450° or until the cheese begins to turn just slightly golden.
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