This tall stalk is what everyone’s whispering about at the market…’ooo, look at that’, ‘which vendor has THAT?!’, ‘what on earth do you do with it?’. It’s Elephant Garlic and can be found at Pleitez Produce. It is actually part of the leek family but resembles garlic in looks and somewhat in flavor. It has a beautiful bloom that is not edible at the top of the stalk but, if you pop it in water, it will keep for a few weeks. The stalk is very tough so for this trip, I cut the bulb from the bottom and topped it with olive oil, butter, salt & pepper. I wrapped the whole thing in aluminum foil and put it on the grill to roast for over an hour. The end result was a buttery, soft, delightfully aromatic spread of mild garlic-like flavor. I whipped some with butter to be used for another occasion and then set aside a few large cloves to add to the pizza ‘dough’. Here’s how my Farmer’s Market dinner came together:
Farmer’s Market Cauliflower Pizza:
Serves: 2-4 (depending on how hungry the crowd!)
Prep time: factoring in the roasted garlic, it’s about an hour and twenty
1 head fresh cauliflower
2 cloves roasted elephant garlic
1 cup shredded cheese, I used a sharp cheddar and a Pecorino Romano (about 1/2 of each)
fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, oregano, basil – all of which can be found at the market)
crushed red pepper to taste
salt & pepper
As I mentioned before, I started by roasting the garlic on the grill until it was soft. Preheat the oven to 450°. While that garlic is working its way to magical makings, rinse and thoroughly dry the cauliflower. It is very important that the cauliflower be as dry as possible.
‘Rice’ the cauliflower by pulsing in the food processor until it is the size of rice grains. Transfer to a microwave safe bowl and cook for 6-8 minutes or until tender. Let cool and then transfer to a clean dish towel to squeeze any water pulled out in the cooking process (like you would for thawed frozen spinach). Add back to the food processor with garlic, cheese, egg and spices. Pulse until well blended (the consistency will be similar to a cooked polenta that has cooled in the refrigerator).
Spray a pizza round with non-stick spray. Transfer the cauliflower mixture to the pizza round and begin shaping using the pan as your guide. I find it easiest to pile it all in the middle and then use my fingers to press out to the sides of the pan, rotating the pan as I go (as you would for a regular crust). The thinner it can go, the crispier it will turn out. Too thin, however, and the crust holds no sauce.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until it is nice and golden. The edges should be very crisp, almost burnt. Top it with your favorites and switch the oven to broil to warm through. I used cheese as a topping sparingly since there is already cheese in the dough and then opted for a traditional pizza sauce, market fresh tomatoes and turkey pepperoni. I topped it all off with a spicy arugula from Victory Farms, tossed in a light red wine vinaigrette.
Obviously, the crust tastes completely different from a traditional pizza crust but the riced cauliflower and cheese blend make for a great texture and a healthy alternative to a wheat variety, especially for those with certain food sensitivities. For the next round, I think I will also try adding almond meal to the mix to give it even more stability. The cooking techniques for the cauliflower can be changed up too, either by steaming the entire cauliflower head or possibly roasting the florets for an even deeper flavor. The good news is that even if your crust comes out a little crumbly or soft, it is just as delicious with a knife and fork!
Saturday’s Basket is written by a Forest Hill resident and is a weekly review of South of the James Market purchases and the recipes she creates with her market finds. View these and more recipes at Pantry2Plate, a food blog with stories of cooking, as best as she knows how.