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Cauliflower on pizza. I’m a fan. Like spicy buffalo cauliflower pizza, korma curry Indian pizza. And this Tuscan roasted cauliflower flatbread pizza. A word of warning though. If you’re looking for cauliflower crust pizza. This. Is. Not. It. #sorrynotsorry
Simply put, I’m 100% not on the cauliflower crust pizza train. Why? It goes against my food philosophy.
I believe in eating in season, eating whole foods, and calling it like it is. What does that mean? Let me explain.
(If you are just here for the pizza, you can Jump to Recipe.)
EATING IN SEASON
No matter what your major chain grocery supermarket offers to sell you, tomatoes should not be eaten in January. Why? Tomatoes grow in the summer. They need sunshine and heat to develop and ripen so all that fresh tomato essence packs as big a punch as possible. So tomatoes are in season in the summer. Typically late summer, though it depends on the specific variety and growing conditions.
So what does it mean if you pick up a pint of cherry tomatoes this weekend at the grocery store? Well, it means they’re not from around here. Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica are the top supplies of fruits to the United States. Mexico is also the largest supplier of imported vegetables. Know what the top two imports are? Bananas and tomatoes. Nerds like me love charts and graphs. And spreadsheets with data about US Food Imports.
Why does it matter?
For one: FLAVOR. Have you had a fresh off the vine tomato from the farmers market in the middle of August? THEY’RE UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE! The same goes for peaches, melons, and berries. Eating fruits and vegetables at their peak means they taste the way they’re supposed to taste. This is especially true if you buy your produce from a farmers market because the produce has been harvested more recently compared to your average grocery store.
Second, nutritional value of fruits and vegetables begins to decrease immediately after harvest. Why? Well, the fruit or vegetable is no longer attached to the roots which means the plants have been triggered to die. So the longer it sits on a truck, or ship, or plane, or grocery shelf, the less nutritional bang for your hard earned buck. Bummer.
As a result, I’m quite particular about sourcing my produce, finding my favorite farmers and producers for nearly every fruit and vegetable I consume.
Twin Peaks Orchards has the best tree fruit. I get my greens and roots from River Dog Farm and Hearty Fork Farm at the Sunday market. Full Belly Farms has amazing melons and squash that I get from the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op.
Plus, I have bi-weekly subscription CSA vegetable box from Say Hay Farms which supplies me with an overflowing box of produce year round. Shopping at farmers markets and picking up a CSA box helps me keep tabs on what’s growing in my area. Which allows me to eat in season, and eat the most delicious produce available.
EATING WHOLE FOODS
What are whole foods? They’re foods that are consumed “as close to their natural form as possible,” and typically plants. Things like beans and legumes, fruits, vegetables, and grains.
If I’m going to eat cauliflower, I’m going to eat a recognizable cauliflower. Like on this flatbread pizza. I’m not going to hide it in my low carb pizza crust. Or buy cauliflower pizza crust from Trader Joe’s.
I just want to be clear, if you’ve got Celiac disease or other dietary restrictions due to autoimmune disorders or sensitivities, I support your gluten free pizza choices, cauliflower crust included, and whatever other choices you make to ensure you feel good and your body feels strong.
For me, eating whole foods is a building block, not a trend or a diet. When I open my fridge to make breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I start with a vegetable. Then I consider a protein. Finally, I consider what kind of grain or carbohydrate I want to serve.
Eating this way is a response to what feels right for my body. But I’m not on a strict whole foods plant based diet. I use olive oil and coconut oil in my cooking. I love pretzel buns from Freeport Bakery and ice cream from The Devil May Care. But choosing to eat mostly whole foods allows me to let go of calorie counting, dieting, food restrictions and all the ways our food culture tells us food is bad. Which leads me to my final point.
FOOD IS FOOD
Sounds simple right? It can be. But sometimes, it isn’t.
Food and nutrition are freaking complicated. For anyone on the fence of the fat debate, you know what I mean. It takes time, attention, and effort to figure it out what’s right for you and your body. And, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t figured it all out. But I like learning about this stuff. And I keep trying.
You know what else is complicated? Recipes for things like “healthy, vegan, gluten free loaded tater tots,” which exist all over the internet. I’m in the camp of “let’s call it what it is.” Not “healthy, vegan, gluten free loaded tater tots,” Just loaded tater tots.
Because potatoes are naturally gluten free so tater tots should also be gluten free. And if you want your loaded tots to be vegan, I recommend stay away from pulled pork, bacon, cheese, cheese sauce, and sour cream. Since we’re mostly adults here, let’s just be okay with eating tater tots. We don’t need to call them healthy because they’re baked so we can feel justified in our food choices.
Embrace Your Food Choices, Whatever They Are
In fact, labeling, healthy eating and clean eating have co opted our ability to have positive relationships with food. We’re stuck in a food culture of food shaming, just like we’re body shaming. We pin recipes for “healthy Chinese food,” like 1.3 billion people in China don’t know how to eat right. And by labeling certain foods “clean eats,” we cast judgement and simultaneously label other foods dirty. (But there ain’t no tots like dirty tots from Tank House.)
There is nothing inherently bad about eating pizza or tater tots or anything else on your list of unhealthy junk food. If you want to eat any of these things, just recognize you’re doing it. Bring some mindfulness to your eating and be aware that you’re making the choice to eat these foods.
We are all eaters. And we all have an opportunity to dive into this messy, complicated, beautiful web of food.
Some days, food is just fuel that feeds my body to keep going. Other days, I’ll spend hours in the kitchen preparing numerous feastly dishes for a group of friends about to ravenously descend on my table. Food can be good. Food can be bad. Just recognize the choices you’re making. There are no hard lines in the sand. It’s about balance. But then, isn’t everything?
TUSCAN ROASTED CAULIFLOWER FLATBREAD PIZZA
If you’ve gotten all the way to this point and read my selection of thoughts on food, CONGRATULATIONS! You now get to make roasted cauliflower flatbread pizza.
Remember the holiday party I went to with the awesome roasted acorn squash kale salad? There was also the most delicious cauliflower I’d ever tasted: Tuscan roasted cauliflower. It was tangy and saucy and cheesy and crunchy. I knew I needed to make it.
So I set out to make Tuscan roasted cauliflower and gathered all the ingredients I could recall: cauliflower, pine nuts, parmesan, tomato sauce, lemon and parsley. As I looked at it, it began to look suspiciously like a pizza. While Tuscan roasted cauliflower on its own was a delightful dish on it’s own, a meal it would not make. Throw it on ready made flatbread? Now I’ve got dinner.
Roasted Cauliflower Flatbread Pizza
Roasted cauliflower flatbread pizza is an easy lunch or dinner ready in 30 minutes. Crunchy cauliflower is paired with tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, lemon and parsley on fluffy flatbread.
head cauliflower, diced (about 1 pound)
Parmesan cheese, shredded
toasted pine nuts
Heat oven to 400°F.
Toss cauliflower with olive oil. Spread evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast cauliflower in the oven 15 minutes.
Increase oven temperature to 450°F.
Lay one flatbread on a baking sheet or pan. Spread half the tomato sauce onto the bread. Top with half the roasted cauliflower. Repeat with the other flatbread.
Toast flatbread pizzas for 5 minutes.
Remove from oven, top with parmesan cheese, parsley, and pine nuts. Squeeze lemon juice over each flatbread.
Slice and serve immediately.
I used California Lavash naan for this Tuscan roasted cauliflower flatbread pizza. It was fluffy and bready and delicious and I would definitely recommend you try it!I also put the parmesan, parsley, and pine nuts onto the flatbread pizza after baking it so I don’t burn these ingredients. Parmesan could be melted on the pizza, but the parsley and pine nuts will burn at high oven temperatures.
CHECK THE FRIDGE
Spicy pickled peppers, hot peppers, and roasted garlic would be delicious additional toppings to this roasted cauliflower flatbread pizza. Don’t have cauliflower? Broccoli is another excellent choice.
I want to take a moment to recognize that my food choices are my choices. I have the luxury and ability of being able to cook all my own meals. That choice is not always available to others. But we all have choices. I respect the ones that you make, even if I make different decisions. Please respect mine. I also recognize the hypocrisy of calling out clean eating while simultaneously using hashtags on social media along the lines of #cleaneating, #eatrealfood #healthyfoodshare. It helps me get my content out there. Nobody’s perfect.