It’s great to be back! For anyone not following along, I broke my arm a while back after I slipped and fell off the chair I was standing on to take a picture of this (delicious) Dutch baby. So I have spent the past 6 weeks sporting a cast on my left arm.
A delicious cauliflower pizza recipe, with bechamel sauce and prosciutto.
During that time, I learned that typing with one finger really sucks and cooking (and eating, for that matter) is infinitely more fun and rewarding with the benefit of two good arms. Having to ask someone to cut my meat for me was certainly humbling.
I learned that absolutely everyone (including complete strangers and the cashiers at Walmart) is going to ask “how did you break your arm?”. For expediency sake, I quickly learned to reduce my story to “I fell off a chair”, which was inevitably followed by them asking if alcohol was involved :) Oh well. The story they were imagining at that point was probably more interesting anyway.
And finally, I learned that necessity truly is the mother of invention – like figuring out that by sticking my elbow in the centre of a bagel, I could hold it still while (very carefully!) cutting it around the outside. Or figuring out how to put a bra on with only one hand/arm (I’ll leave you to imagine how I accomplished that :). I learned that I would be defeated by some things, such as the can opener or trying to hold a lemon in place so I could zest it.
So with my cast now off, I was anxious to get back to some serious, unencumbered cooking!
I spied this recipe a while back in a feature on Serious Eats. It comes from Jim Lahey, the father of the no-knead bread and pizza dough. Have you ever come across a recipe and thought “it’s either going to be really good or really bad”? That was my first reaction to this recipe. But I couldn’t get it out of my head. And with fresh, local cauliflower 2 for $3 at the grocery store, I knew I was destined to find out. I am so pleased to report that this pizza was fabulous!
I did adapt the original recipe, which called for olives instead of prosciutto. Quite simply, I don’t like olives. I did figure this pizza was going to need something to balance the rich, bechamel sauce though, so I went for salty, crispy prosciutto. It was great and I would definitely recommend it. (I happen to like crispy prosciutto, but if you’re one who thinks that prosciutto should never, ever be eaten “crispy”, no problem. Just put it on in the last few seconds of broiling to warm it a bit or after you take it out of the oven, if you prefer). If you’re an olive fan, that would obviously be a great choice, as well. I think bacon or pancetta would also work.
I used Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough, which I started the night before. I also made the bechamel the night before, so when it came time to make the pizza, it was really quick and easy. That said, you can use your favourite homemade pizza dough, or even store-bought, ready-made pizza dough if you like.
Note that you probably won’t use all of the Bechamel sauce. The leftovers will keep in the fridge for about 5 days, so you can use it for another meal (creamed peas and potatoes or added to a pasta dish?). Google also confirms that it should freeze fairly well. The dough recipe will make two 12-14-inch pizzas. If you only need one, you can also refrigerate or freeze the extra dough ball. Topping amounts are for ONE pizza, so double up as needed.
- For the no-knead pizza dough:
- 500 grams (17 1/2 ounces or about 3 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- For the Bechamel sauce:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8-10 chunks
- 2 tablespoons + 1 tsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
- 3 grates from a whole nutmeg or a pinch of ground nutmeg
- For assembling the pizza (*Topping amounts are for one 12-inch pizza. If you're making two pizzas, double as needed):
- 1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets, trimmed of stems (about 1 small cauliflower)
- Pizza dough and room temperature Bechamel sauce
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
- 2 ounces mozzarella cheese, broken into chunks (that's about two square inches or so)
- 3/4-1 tsp. coarsely chopped fresh garlic
- Generous pinch of chili flakes
- 3 slices prosciutto, torn into smaller pieces
- Chopped fresh parsley for sprinkling on finished pizza
- The night before, prepare your pizza dough. In a large bowl (no need to bust out your stand mixer for this one), whisk together the flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and stir well with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together and all the flour is moistened. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave on your counter top at room temperature for 18-24 hours.
- For the Bechamel sauce (can be made ahead and refrigerated. Bring it back to room temperature before using). Add about 1/3 of the milk to a medium size saucepan, over medium-low heat. Add the butter chunks and stir until the butter melts. Do not allow it to boil. Meanwhile, add the flour to the remaining milk and stir to combine well. When the butter is melted, remove the pot from heat and pour some of the hot milk/butter mixture into the remaining milk/flour mixture, then pour the milk/flour mixture back into the pot. Return the pot to the heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of heavy cream and/or reaches about 180° F. on a thermometer. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool at room temperature. The sauce will thicken more as it cools.
- When you're ready to start your pizza preparation, with a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven, pre-heat the oven to 500° F.
- Spread your cauliflower onto a baking sheet, breaking it into smaller pieces with your fingers as you go. Place into the pre-heated oven (on top of the pizza stone) and bake for about 12 minutes, until it is lightly charred on a few edges. Remove and set aside to cool a bit, leaving the oven on at 500° F.
- Turn your dough out onto a well-floured surface. Gently rotate, flip and gather the dough until it is no longer sticky to the touch. Divide the dough in half. If you're only making one 12-inch pizza, wrap and refrigerate or freeze the other ball of dough.
- On your peel, or on parchment paper, very gently stretch your dough into a roughly 12-inch circle, using your finger tips and keeping it kind of bumpy (try not to deflate the dough too much). Spread about a 1/4-1/3 cup of your Bechamel sauce on the bottom. Sprinkle liberally with 3 or 4 Tbsp. of Parmesan, then scatter the roasted cauliflower overtop. Sprinkle with chili flakes and garlic. If you want your prosciutto crispy, sprinkle over the top of your pizza now. (If not, add in the last minute of cooking or after the pizza comes out of the oven).
- Place your pizza onto your pre-heated pizza stone and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes. Open the door slightly and switch your oven over to broil for 2-3 minutes (leaving the door ajar), until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly.
- Sprinkle your finished pizza with parsley, cut, serve and enjoy!
Adapted from Jim Lahey’s “My Pizza”