6.16.2013

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND SHIITAKE MUSHROOM PIZZA

The inspiration for this recipe came from the Roasted Cauliflower pizza at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza.  As the name implies, the Anthony’s version is baked in a brick oven (>600oF) beside a coal fire.  As a consequence, their pizzas come out “well done,” and in the case of the Roasted Cauliflower pizza, on the verge of being burnt. That’s not to say that this pizza isn’t good, it’s just that the smokiness of a charred crust doesn’t do much to complement the other ingredients, and results in an overall dry and salty taste. This may very well be the intent of the pizza, but I found this flavor profile to be too crowded, and almost overpowering. 

In my version of the pizza, I used the brackishness of roasted garlic as a bookend for the salt and the sweetness of caramelized onions as a bookend for the sugar, and created a gradient of flavors in between. Mozzarella cheese is good to bring out the sweetness of a crust, while providing enough softness to hold on to the bulky cauliflower. I found that roasting the cauliflower actually brings out a fair amount of sugar, so I thought roasted shiitake mushrooms, which come with an earthiness, would do well to round out the flavors. Rosemary-infused olive oil added some aromatic depth, and grated parmesan brought in a little acidity (salty tanginess). 

I’ve experimented with a few different breads and crusts (ready made flat bread, Trader Joe’s pizza dough, and home-made pizza dough), and also a few different baking methods (pizza peel, pizza stone, and propane grill). On the front of dough, I really couldn’t tell the difference. The flavors of this recipe are derived largely from the combination of ingredients on top of the crust. The bread you use provides little (if any) changes to the flavor profile. In terms of a cooking method, however, I’d recommend using a pizza stone or a grill. There are some subtle changes to texture that come with higher and more uniformed heats. For example the pizza stone made the crust a little flakier, while the grill made the crust a little crispier and dry. The pizza peel, on the other hand, made the crust soft

In the end, this pizza tastes a lot different from the Anthony’s version. In fact, the only commonality is the use of cauliflower. For this reason, I’d recommend trying both.



Ingredients
5 Tbsp
2 Tbsp
2 Tbsp
7 cloves
1 head
½
5 oz
1½ cup
1½ cup
1 (10” x 12”)
Olive Oil
Butter (divided in half)
Rosemary, chopped (divided in half)
Garlic, chopped
Cauliflower, cut into florets
Large red onion, julienned
Shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
Mozzarella cheese, grated
Parmesan cheese, grated
Pre-made flat bred or crust

Directions
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Preheat oven to 400 oF.
In a medium saucepan, heat 3 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add in rosemary and garlic. Stir, infusing for 30 seconds.
Remove from heat and combine with cauliflower in a large mixing bowl. Toss to coat evenly.
In a large mixing bowl, combine mushrooms and olive oil, toss to coat.
Spread cauliflower in a baking dish. Roast in oven at 400oF for 15 minutes.
Add mushrooms to the baking dish, season with salt and pepper, toss.
Return to oven for an additional 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is golden brown.
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan on high heat. Add onions and caramelize.
Infuse 1 Tbsp of butter with 1 Tbsp of rosemary.
Brush the seasoned butter onto flat bread and bake on a pizza stone for 15 minutes.
Assemble the pizza by layering mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, cauliflower, mozzarella, and then a layer of caramelized onions.
Sprinkle the pizza with parmesan cheese, and bake on a pizza stone for 10 to 15 minutes.







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