Pizza Lab #19: Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza
Not sure if everyone’s aware but I stopped eating red meat several years ago for health reasons. Ever since, aside from rare occasions the only meat that I eat is chicken. I’ve seen the effects of this diet switch proven successful through bloodwork and never plan on switching back. Red meat’s nasty anyway. So because of this, you can imagine I’m somewhat sympathetic of vegetarians. Though personally I could never stop eating at least chicken due to its importance to my own personal cooking style, I can definitely commend people who choose that diet and I have utmost respect for them.
That being said, I do lament the fact we haven’t given much vegetarian-friendly support on the site outside of desserts or cereal. That’s my bad. But! This post will hopefully make up for that a little bit since we envisioned this Pizza Lab exclusively vegetarian in nature. It comes from a friend of mine who recently posted about a food place selling Buffalo cauliflower bites. Meanwhile, Buffalo chicken is a pizza that unfortunately lots of non-meat-eaters miss out on. So that’s where Pizza Lab comes in!
Fried cauliflower is surprisingly delicious if you’ve never had it before. It’s such a delightful combination of sweet and savory and salty all in one bite. I don’t actually remember if the Buffalo cauliflower I had researched called for frying, but that’s besides the point. It tastes really frickin’ good and is a perfect way to let vegetarians simulate the sweet nectar food that is Buffalo chicken bites. The only problem is it’s kind of a pain in the ass to make, since it requires you steam the cauliflower first before frying each individual little piece. And as you can see above, there’s a lot of small pieces that require frying. Oh well.
The other major aspect of this pizza was the Buffalo sauce. Personally I love it, while Meg…. not so much (she doesn’t care for spicy foods). I have a good recipe I use when making it from scratch, so I kept it as non-spicy as possible. Buffalo sauce, in its simplest form, is just hot sauce and butter. That’s your everyday layman’s variety, but my own personal recipe is a little bit more involved. After finishing it, it was spread onto the crust as you would with a tomato sauce.
As mentioned, fried cauliflower has to be both steamed and fried. So because of this, we ended up parcooking the crust as we do with some pizzas. Considering the cauliflower was already cooked TWICE it didn’t really need to be cooked very long for its third time. After a 10 minute trip to the oven, the crust was removed and the cauliflower was dipped into Buffalo sauce, and loaded on.
The cheese meanwhile was a blend of mozzarella and provolone. Considering the strong, strong flavor of Buffalo sauce, cheese wasn’t really much of a factor since most cheeses, unless incredibly sharp, were gonna get overshadowed. Reasonably enough, I ate a chicken sandwich earlier that week with melted provolone on it. That was enough to make me say “Hey let’s use provolone on the Buffalo pizza!” Well, plus we really like provolone. But so with the cheese on top, the pizza was transferred back to the oven for its final bake.
I think what I liked most about this pizza was just how convincingly you could pass it off as a Buffalo chicken pizza. Seriously, look at that shit! It looks completely like boneless Buffalo wings! The only giveaway, besides biting into them obviously, is if you look up close at the cauliflower you can make out their stems. But from afar, this is as close you’re gonna get to Buffalo chicken pizza without it actually being a Buffalo chicken pizza.
The flavor meanwhile was almost just as convincing too. The fried cauliflower’s taste gets lost in the Buffalo sauce unfortunately, but hey it’s meant to taste like Buffalo in the first place so it’s not much of a fault. All in all however, it really does accomplish it though. When you’re eating this pie, it tastes 100% like its chicken counterpart. The only discernible difference you could notice is the texture of the cauliflower being a bit mushier than chicken, but them’s the breaks when comparing vegetables to meat. But really, this pizza is a beautiful thing, and I really want to make it again for any of our veggie-eating friends who’ve never partaken of the forbidden fruit of Buffalo chicken pizza. It’s straight up a vegetarian Buffalo pizza and it tastes great no matter what you like eating.
Vegetarian Replica of a Delicious Classic