Game Night: Pesto and Kale, Cauliflower Pizza Crust

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As we make our way into October, you can feel the energy and excitement as the Giants have made it to the playoffs!  The city feels electric and with that many parties are being held to watch the game.  In anticipation of the World Series and the parties that follow, this week I will share a few healthy and delicious traditional ‘game night’ dishes that you could easily bring to a party for everyone to enjoy! 

The first recipe is a delicious cauliflower pesto pizza!  I never thought you could recreate pizza into something healthy, let alone taste incredible!  If you are gluten-free or are just trying to skip the traditional pizza and aim for something more nutritious, this really is a perfect recipe!  It is filled with beautiful flavors and textures that really bring the pizza to life!  The pizza dough is made of delicious cauliflower, herbs and nutritional yeast.  The nutritional yeast adds a cheesy flavor that starts off the wonderful flavors in this pizza.  Then it’s topped with a delicious, heaping dollop of my creamy pesto!  This pesto is nutty, creamy and really elevates the pizza.  But what brings this pizza to life and makes it unique to a traditional pizza, is the topping of homemade crispy kale leaves!  The slightly salty leaves add a beautiful crunch that makes the pizza complete.  It is so good!

These three layers together make for a great dish to serve at any sports party.  It’s easy to eat, healthy and extremely delicious!  I’ve tested it out on my friends and family who thought this was a bizarre idea and they all loved it!  They find it to be more of a flat bread, as it is thin and crispy, but nonetheless, delicious and worth a try.  It’s exciting to step out of your comfort zone and make a pizza that is filled with unexpected ingredients.  This pizza will not only excite your hunger spot but will keep you energized from the plant-protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber coming from the cauliflower, nutritional yeast, kale and nuts!  This way you can partake in the party festivities, while feeling energized without being in a food-coma.  Cheers!

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Serves: 4+

Prep Time: 40 minutes | Cook Time: 45 minutes (20mins for Kale; 25mins for pizza)

Ingredients for the Pizza and Kale:

- ½ head of cauliflower

- 1 cup almond flour (or buckwheat)

- 3 tablespoons chia seeds + 9 tablespoons water

-1 tablespoon tamari (Gluten-Free Soy Sauce)

- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

- juice of ½ lemon

- ½ teaspoon dried herbs

- ½ tablespoon of olive oil

- sprinkle of sea salt salt

- enough kale to fill baking sheet ( about 4 cups)

See pesto recipe and instructions here

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Instructions for the Crispy Kale topping:

Start by making the crispy kale leaves that you will eventually top the pesto pizza with.  After you preheat the oven to 300F, de-stem the kale leaves and tear into small pieces.  Make sure that there is no extra water on the kale leaves, not even a drop – this is essential as the water will wilt the leaves when baking, not allowing them to crisp.  Now drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle just a pinch of sea salt over the leaves and mix well.  Careful not to over salt the leaves, they absorb salt in excess so a little pinch (1/4 teaspoon) really goes a long way.  Bake the kale for 20-25 minutes, turning the baking sheet (not the kale) every 10 minutes.  Once the leaves are crispy, set-aside until the pizza has cooked and is topped with the pesto - then add the crispy kale.

Instructions for the Pizza and Pesto:

Simply start by making the chia seed gel.  Mix the chia seeds with the water and set aside till the chia seeds absorb all the water and expand into a gel like mixture - this is what keeps the pizza intact.  This should take about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat your oven to 375F and place the cauliflower florets into the food processor and pulse until a flour like texture forms.  Place this flour into a nut bag and squeeze out the excess water.  This is an essential step as cauliflower is filled with excess water that must be drained in order to keep the pizza compact.  Try squeezing for a few minutes – it is a workout for the arms, trust me!

Now pour the cauliflower flour into a large bowl with the chia seed gel, almond flour, lemon juice, few pinches of salt, dried herbs, and tamari.  Mix well with your hands to combine all the ingredients, forming a dough.  Drizzle olive oil and almond flour on the pizza dish, before adding the dough.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until the edges become crisp and golden brown.

As the pizza is cooking, prepare the pesto.  Once the pizza has finished cooking, spread the pesto on top of the pizza and add the crispy kale leaves.  Enjoy the festivities!