Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I prefer men to cauliflowers.

Lounging Cauliflower, 2009

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
(serves 2)
  • 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.


  1. HA! I love that last line! So true..!

    The pizza sounds divine (sans the meat for me)... Sigh. I really wish I could just pop by and share a bite to eat with you... I almost smelled the goodness baking in your oven, dear... Some day, no?


  2. i made roasted cauliflower for the first time a couple weeks ago. it took a surprisingly short time to cook - then i topped it with chopped olives, lemon juice, and olive oil as a side to salmon. yum!

  3. Oh, I adore roasted cauliflower! This recipe sounds divine. And I agree that the plastic packaging is a major downside to shopping at Trader Joe's.

  4. sounds beyond luscious !! my taste buds are having a field trip just thinking about it..
    I will have to share a great cauliflower recipe that grandma use to concoct.. also delish !

  5. Inspiring! I do love pizza. I feel like I need to make this pizza...

  6. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving the link for the "water" artist. I checked out the piece you referred to and wow, I couldn't believe it was graphite. Very impressive and beautiful.

  7. Maria, If you are ever in the neighborhood, I'd be happy to make you a special pizza (sans meat).

    Julia, It was so easy, wasn't it? I don't know why I waited so long. I love your version, with olives and lemon juice + salmon. Perfect!

    Jessica, Agreed--I will be roasting again soon! ...and Trader Joe's,lose that plastic.

    Melva, I'd love to see the recipe Grandma used to make! When you have time...send it to me.

    Tracy, Pizza is fun. I don't think I've ever made the same pizza twice. Have fun with your version of this one!

    Janis, Vija Celmins is an interesting artist. I'm a bit biased because, like my father's side of our family, she is Latvian. I love the simplicity of her imagery. That she used graphite in the waves piece, it's just amazing--so difficult to believe it's not a b&w photograph. Her paintings of the night sky are wonderful as well. More on Vija Celmins:

  8. Hello Denise - thankyou for taking the time to visit and leave comments on my blog - it is always a pleasure and now I see that we have something in common - my maternal Grandmother was Latvian - she was a huge inspiration to me.

  9. Feltbug, It is so rare that I meet someone with Latvian ancestry. My grandmother was an inspiration to me as well. She was a very interesting and talented woman with so many amazing stories from her past.

  10. Sounds delicious! Maybe I will try this next weekend. I've been wanting to make pizza for some time now :).

  11. I love the flavor combination...would it as a standalone side.

  12. Roysie, I really enjoyed making it. I like the way pizza dough demands I slow down and give it my time. I hope you enjoy your pizza making too.

    Amelia, Oh yes, I think these ingredients would make a wonderful side dish.

  13. the way you detail the recipe steps is just lovely -- Smear cloves of soft roasted garlic onto the dough with your hands--a bit here, a bit there...

    did the cauliflower keep its green hue after it was roasted? or did it change color somewhat

  14. Jen, Welcome home! Thank you for your kind note. The cauliflower maintained much of it's green hue, but the roasting did add a nice brown to the green.

  15. Nice flavors...a wonderful combination really.
    Uninhibited vegetables are the way.
    'don't let your priorities get in the way of your priorities' I will remember that.

  16. Thanks, Rachel. Yes, I keep reminding myself 'don't let your priorities get in the way of your priorities'. It's surprisingly easy to become distracted...