Our Friday night pizza parties have become one of my favorite regulated forms of gluttony.
Some of you may remember that they were born from a time in March when we realized that we were eating some combination of pizza, cookies and pasta at every meal. There is nothing wrong with any one of these categories. But diversity is the spice of life, even if it means subbing in a cheesy quesadilla for your second pie.
So in April we took a slightly more regimented approach to our indulgences: Tuesday pasta night, Wednesday #HumpDayCookies (which have segued to Salt Rock Chocolates), TGIF pizza night, Saturday ‘dilla brunch, and the usual pancake Sunday.
Our pizza ritual has meant a lot of experimenting with different crusts and combinations (a favorite being this BBQ pie or this socca summer pie). And our Fridays feel rather unmoored on the rare occasion that we have to skip TGIFPN, as has been the case the last few weeks due to a mid-week social distance pizza date on the beach with friends.
So last Friday, to still get that combo of cheesy, tomato-y, crunchy goodness without pushing our dairy and carb limit to the max, I summoned the delicious power of these vegan cauliflower pizza poppers. I discovered the recipe earlier in quarantine in my buddy Talia Pollock’s gorgeous new book, Party in your Plants. She has an incredible knack for making plant-based comfort food approachable, quick and easy (just look at the cover where I say as much in print!).
This cauliflower pizza popper recipe requires just a few ingredients – no more than you might need to make a regular homemade pie. Instead of the usual cheese, she uses a combination of cashews and nutritional yeast pulsed into crumbs to give the florets a cheesy, crispy coating. It sticks perfectly to each nook and cranny after the cauli has been tossed in store bought tomato sauce.
If you are one of my many low FODMAP homies you may be thinking that this sounds like a double whammy for the gut. It did to me too! And it was my ability to eat this dish without incident (even less so than my usual pizza pie) that really shows how far I’ve come in the last few years post-SIBO. Take this as a side note of hope.
A few notes on things you can do to jazz up this recipe. I added red pepper flakes because I love a little extra heat on any type of pizza, even in cauliflower form. I also added a sprinkle of gluten-free panko to the top before I baked the cauli since I had some lying around. If cashews aren’t your thing, you could also easily sub this or regular breadcrumbs.
We served these cauliflower poppers as a paleo side but you could also make them the main event as a taco filling or atop a bed of marinated kale. No matter how you serve them, I promise your weekend pizza extravaganza will be no less extravagant and delicious.
Read on for the recipe, and check out the Party in Your Plants cookbook for more brilliant healthy veggie ideas!
With health and hedonism,
Vegan Cauliflower Pizza Poppers
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Wash your head of cauliflower and remove the green leafy part the best you can.
- Chop your cauliflower into medium-large florets and add to a mixing bowl. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of olive oil and set it aside.
- **** In a food processor, process your cashews, nutritional yeast and salt until it’s a coarse sandy texture. (Like crumbly cheese!) Set aside.
- Add your florets onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (You might need two baking sheets for all the cauliflower). Use a spoon to coat the tops of the cauliflower with the pizza sauce.
- Rinse and dry your spoon and use it again to spread a very generous amount of the cashew cheese crumbles on top of the cauliflower, using the pizza sauce to serve as “glue” helping them stick.
- Place into the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
- While they’re baking, rinse, dry and chop your basil as small as you can (or as you like).
- After 35 minutes, remove the cauliflower from the oven, sprinkle basil on top of it, and then bake it for another 5 minutes.
- Your cauliflower is done when a fork pokes through it easily.
- Remove from oven, let cool and enjoy! (Store leftovers in a closed container in the fridge.)