Like Ms Woolf, I too prefer men to cauliflowers, but when it's roasted cauliflowers we are discussing, well, the competition stiffens. I've been meaning to roast cauliflower for quite some time now. Yesterday, I decided it was an activity that could no longer be delayed.
The Tuesday Market didn't have any cauliflower, but Farm Fresh to You, inside the Ferry Building, had two choices: 1) A nice traditional white head of cauliflower wrapped in plastic 2) An uninhibited green head, no plastic jacket. I chose the green. There's just something I find off-putting about plastic-wrapped produce. This distaste for plastic-wrapped produce is one of the main reasons I haven't visited Trader Joe's in a while. The Tuesday Market did supply me with an inspirational bunch of young leeks. With cauliflower and leeks in hand, and a few other items I knew I had in my kitchen, I decided to construct a pizza.
Roasted Cauliflower, Caramelized Leek, and Crispy Pancetta Pizza
- 1/2 recipe of this pizza dough, or enough for a rectangular pizza the size of a small cookie sheet (Store the other half in the refrigerator for your next pizza.)
- One small head of cauliflower (Any color will do.) sliced lengthwise into 3/4 inch slices
- 3 thin slices of pancetta, diced
- 1/2 head roasted garlic
- 4 small leeks, sliced thin and slowly caramelized in generous amount of olive oil
- A very small amount of cheese (I used a few curls pulled with a vegetable peeler from a block of Marin Cheese sharp white cheddar. No one ever uses cheddar on pizza and I wanted to give it a go. Chris agreed.)
- Olive oil (Keep bottle on counter, you'll need it.)
- Salt & Pepper (I happened to have Fleur de Sel and freshly ground black pepper.)
Roast a head of garlic if you don't have one on hand, actually, roast two and save one for later.
Read your dough recipe and allow yourself some leisurely time to prepare. It's quite simple, but it takes a while.
You can pre-cook the rest of the ingredients ahead of time or wait until your last dough rising cycle and begin then.
Rub both sides of your cauliflower slices with olive oil, place on cookie sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning once. If you end up with some smallish pieces of cauliflower, wait about 10 minutes to add them to the cookie sheet. This will avoid burning. Your cauliflower should brown a bit on both sides. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
Saute pancetta in a little olive oil until lightly crisped. Don't overcook because it will crisp up a bit more on the pizza. Move pancetta from pan to a small bowl or plate. Do not drain on paper. Do not wash pan.
Add a bit more olive oil to your saute pan (the same one you used for the pancetta) and add sliced leeks. Slowly caramelize your leeks and let them cool to room temperature in pan.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Break up roasted cauliflower and add to leeks in pan. Toss leeks and cauliflower and add additional salt and pepper to taste (remember...pancetta is salty).
Press dough into cookie sheet, out to the edges of the pan.
Smear cloves of soft roasted garlic onto the dough with your hands--a bit here, a bit there.
Evenly sprinkle leek and cauliflower mixture on top of garlic.
Scatter pancetta on top of leeks and cauliflower (don't wash the bowl).
Pull a few curls of cheese and place on top.
Dip your fingers into the pancetta bowl and rub on all of the exposed crust showing around the edges of the toppings.
Bake for about 10 minutes or until crust begins to turn light brown. If the toppings start looking too brown before the crust turns brown, cover them with a sheet of foil.
Remove from oven, cool for a few minutes, and EAT!
Use the other half of your dough later in the week for a roasted red pepper, feta, and chicken Italian sausage pizza. That's what I'll be doing...
Yes, this takes a little time, but it's fun, and remember--don't let your priorities get in the way of your priorities.