Nutrient-packed cauliflower forms the base of this low-calorie, gluten-free bread that's topped with cheesy goodness. It's the perfect guilt-free appetizer for the holidays!
As 2014 comes to a close, it’s nice to take a moment to reflect on all of the events of the past year. This month’s Recipe Redux theme is all about reflection. Since the group has been around for 42 months, they decided to put out a fun challenge to finish up the year. We had to pick a cookbook and create a healthier version of the recipe on either page 42 or 142.
The recipe I’ve chosen to redux is “Cheese Bread from Genoa” or “Focaccia al Formaggio” from Mario Batali’s cookbook Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home. There's a full page picture on page 42, so technically the recipe is on page 43. Mario Batali is of course, a chef superstar with an endless knowledge of Italian cuisine. In this book, he demystifies many traditionally elaborate Italian dishes, simplifying them for the home cook.
I love focaccia but I set out to make a lighter, more nutritious version. You’ll probably be surprised to hear what I used as the base of my focaccia instead of flour. The answer is… cauliflower! Yes, the humble cauliflower is actually an extremely versatile vegetable. It can be used in any number of ways and because of it’s mild flavor, it takes on the flavors of whatever you mix it with. A member of the cruciferous vegetable group (like Brussels sprouts, kale and broccoli), cauliflower is packed with powerful phytochemicals (plant-based compounds) and antioxidants that help prevent disease. It also has an impressive array of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for your health including fiber, protein, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, B-complex vitamins, potassium, manganese and choline.
I love grilling slices of cauliflower to make cauliflower “steaks” or roasting florets at high temperatures in the oven until they’re perfectly caramelized. I also enjoy using it to make a delicious, smooth puree that I serve as a side dish or use as a base for Cauliflower Mac and Cheese.
You can also grind up cauliflower florets in a food processor and use it to make a healthy, low calorie, gluten-free dough. Pretty cool, right? In addition to substituting nutritious cauliflower for the refined flour in the original focaccia recipe, my Cauliflower Cheesy Bread also scales back on the large amounts of cheese and oil. It has just the right amount of ooey, gooey cheesy goodness. Serve it with marinara sauce for dipping and you have the perfect guilt-free appetizer for the holidays. Thanks for the inspiration, Mario!
Cauliflower Cheesy Bread
Makes 16 breadsticks
1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
1 large egg or 2 egg whites
1 cup shredded cheese (I used reduced fat Cheddar Jack), divided
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning or mix of dried herbs (I used thyme, basil and parsley)
Salt and pepper
Marinara sauce for serving (optional)
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower and cut it into florets. Place them in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is finely chopped and looks like rice.
Transfer the cauliflower to a microwave-safe dish or bowl. Cover and cook in the microwave for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can steam the cauliflower in a steamer basket or bake it in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes.
When the cauliflower is cool, transfer it to a bowl lined with a kitchen towel or cheesecloth. Bring the ends of the cloth together and squeeze as much liquid out of the cauliflower as you can. I got about ½ cup liquid.
Transfer the cauliflower to a mixing bowl and add the egg, Italian seasoning, ½ cup cheese, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Mix to combine.
Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Form the dough into a rectangle about 8 x 12 inches and ¼-inch thick.
Bake in the oven 15-20 minutes until cooked. Remove the baking sheet and sprinkle the remaining ½ cup cheese over the top. Bake another 5 minutes until cheese is melted.
Cut cheesy bread into 16 breadsticks. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
One breadstick: Calories 26; Fat 0.8g (Sat 0.4g); Protein 2.8g; Carb 2g; Fiber 0.8g; Sodium 58mg
Look below to see what the other Recipe Redux members did with this fun challenge.