I’m not going to start by presenting the usual “-after-Christmas-diet-plan”. Everybody over eats at Christmas. Too many gatherings, parties and sweets. But January shouldn’t be the month of detox and healthy eating. It’s too damn cold! Comfort food cravings are the norm. Bring on the cheese.
This version of a pizza however, is lighter. Which means you can eat more. Plus it will definitely satisfy anyone’s pizza cravings without sacrificing the taste. Quite the contrary. This is a comforting, wintery, cheesy divinity on a plate. Cauliflower and halloumi is a match made in heaven and combined with Parmesan and eggs make a really really delicious base for any pizza toppings you fancy.
I topped my “pizza” with fresh tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, oregano and a light sprinkling of chilli flakes (LOVE!). Make any combination, add any ingredient or serve it plain with just mozzarella cheese. Even kids won’t know the difference. Honest!
For the crust
- 1 large cauliflower roughly cut into florets
- ½ cup halloumi cheese, grated
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 large eggs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil for brushing
For the topping
- 1 ½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
- 2 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and chopped in small pieces
- 10 black olives, pitted and chopped
- 150 grams feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- Mint leaves and chilli flakes (optional) for garnish
Preheat oven to 175 C. Put cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until ground. It will look like rice. You will end up with about 6 cups of ground cauliflower. Spread ground cauliflower in a baking pan and bake for 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
Lay a cheesecloth or a kitchen towel over a large bowl. Put cauliflower in the cheesecloth and cool to almost room temperature. Twist cheesecloth or towel and press to extract as much liquid as possible. Squeeze out as much water as you can.
Put cauliflower in a large bowl. Add halloumi, Parmesan, eggs, salt and pepper. Mix well with a spatula or with your hands. Line a 25 x 35cm pan with greaseproof paper leaving some paper hanging from the sides. This will help you lift the crust out of the pan. Brush paper with olive oil. Press cauliflower mixture all over the base and a little up to the sides of the pan. Use your hands for this; they are the best kitchen tools. Bake for 25 minutes.
Alternatively you can create a free form or a round pizza by lining a baking tray with greaseproof paper, oiling the paper and then pressing the cauliflower mixture on the paper, creating any shape you like. You may need to adjust the baking time as it may brown quicker. Just keep an eye on it and act accordingly.
Take pan out of the oven and using the overhang, carefully lift the cauliflower crust out of the baking pan. Remove the greaseproof paper with a long spatula and transfer base on a baking tray. You can of course finish your pizza in the baking pan, but I find that by removing the paper and finishing the pizza on a baking tray it helps lose the extra moisture and the crust becomes crispier. Having said that a not so crispy crust is just as delicious!
Sprinkle grated mozzarella all over the crust. Then sprinkle the crumbled feta cheese, chopped tomatoes, olives and oregano. Drizzle with the olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese has melted and tomatoes are nicely roasted. Serve at once, cut in squares and sprinkled with some mint leaves and chilli flakes.