One of my colleagues recently returned from New York City where he had planned out an eating tour while being out there. One of the places he had on his list was Jim Lahey’s Sullivan Street Bakery. When he returned to the office, he told great stories of the places he went, but in particular he was excited about the bakery. A while back, he turned me on to Jim Lahey’s recent book as well, called ‘My Bread‘. I’ve been hooked on his pizza dough from that point, so when my colleague came back boasting about how good this cauliflower pizza was, I knew I had to give it a try, but put a little spin on it as well.
The beautiful thing about this pizza is not only the simplicity of it, but the fact that the cauliflower is so thinly sliced, it brought a whole new level of taste to a pizza, that along with the briny punch of the olive. It was a perfect pairing, and who knew it was going to be this good.
Let’s get started.
Ingredients for the pizza dough:
- 3 3/4 cups of bread flour
- 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp sugar
- 1 1/3 cup room temperature water
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients for the pizza:
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cracked black pepper
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into quarters, leaves removed
- 1/2 cup of green olives, no pimentos, sliced in half
- 1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp Italian breadcrumbs
Start by making the dough. Now you can let this rise for 12 hours, or what I’ve been liking is letting it ferment on the counter, covered, for up to 3 days. Add your water, yeast, and sugar to a small mixing bowl. Give that a simple stir, then let the yeast bloom, about 15 minutes. During this time, add the flour and salt to a larger mixing bowl. I use the same large mixing bowl to let the dough rise in. Give that a stir. Once the yeast has bloomed, pour it into the large mixing bowl, and if you have a mixer, gently mix the ingredients until the dough forms. Continue mixing for about 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, a towel, and set the bowl in a warm spot until the dough doubles or triples in size, about 4 hours. Again, I go longer on the rising process.
About one hour before you are ready to make the pizza, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Once the dough has risen, take some flour and lightly toss it onto a pastry board. Use a bench scraper or wooden spoon and take the dough out of the bowl and onto the board. Let it rest for a few minutes while you make the sauce, and prepare your cauliflower.
To make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Once melted, add the flour, and cook the flour on medium heat, stirring for a few minutes. Once the flour is cooked through, add in the milk, and continue to stir until you have a nice thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and set it aside.
If you have a mandoline, I strongly encourage you to use it on this recipe. Thinly slice the cauliflower, almost paper thin if you can. Do the same with the garlic. Add both to a mixing bowl, and toss in the green olives, parmesan cheese, salt, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. Give that a good toss.
Add the olive oil to a large baking sheet and lightly coat the sheet. Use the dough and pull and stretch it, gently, to cover the baking sheet.
Add the sauce to lightly coat the dough. Cover the sauce with the cauliflower mixture, from edge to edge. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs, and place into the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until it is a golden brown.
Remove the pizza from the baking sheet and place onto an aerated cookie sheet. Slice and serve.
When I first bit into the pizza, I was literally blown away. You get this creamy base, and the cauliflower had this light earthiness, great flavor along with the perfection of roasted garlic. When you bit into the olive, well, it was an explosion in your mouth. I never knew that the combination of cauliflower and olives would be so amazing! I was hesitant if my wife would try it as she is not a fan of olives, but she tried a slice, and fell in love. This cauliflower and olive pizza was dynamite, and I’m so glad my colleague talked about it and led me to make it. I hope you enjoy.