Sullivan Street Bakery, NYC
"Cauliflower may strike you as lacking in sufficient character for a pizza, but roasting it is going to draw out the flavor you might not have known it had. Roasting will also give it texture (the roasting process removes about half of its natural liquid). Then you go on to combine it with powerhouses like olives, garlic, and chile, and trust me, you can forget the word bland."
Feel free to make a batch of Lahey's easy no-knead pizza dough, or use any high-quality store-bought dough instead.
From My Pizza by Jim Lahey with Rick Flaste (Clarkson Potter, 2012)
Makes on 10-to 12-inch pizza
2 cups whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 1/4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 rasp grates of nutemg (or a pinch of ground nutmeg)
1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
1 ball of pizza dough, shaped and waiting on a floured peel
1/4 cup béchamel
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padang cheese
1 3/4 ounces mozzarella, pulled into 5 clumps
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped green olives
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
Generous pinch of chile flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
Chopped fresh parsley for sprinkling
Place a pizza stone in a gas oven about 8 inches from the broiler. Preheat the oven to 500°F for 30 minutes.
Make the béchamel: pour about one-third of the milk into a saucepan and add the butter. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring, until the butter melts but without allowing the milk to reach a boil. Meanwhile, put the flour in a medium mixing bowl, add the remaining milk, and whisk into a slurry. Once the butter has been completely incorporated into the hot milk, ladle some of the warm mixture into the cold flour mixture to warm it. Pour the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan and whisk it in. Stir in the salt.
Over medium-low heat, whisk the mixture frequently—to prevent sticking—as it cooks and thickens. The béchamel sauce is done at about 180°F, when it has reached the consistency of a runny sauce or heavy cream. Grate in the nutmeg and allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. It will continue to thicken slightly as it cools. (Note: the béchamel keeps for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Just make sure to bring it back to room temperature before using.)
Crumble the cauliflower with your fingers and spread it evenly in an 8-inch pie pan or baking dish. Set the pan on the pizza stone and roast the cauliflower for 12 minutes, until it is flecked with char and slightly translucent, then remove it and set aside. Switch to broil and continue to heat the stone for another 10 minutes.
With the dough on the peel, spoon the béchamel over the surface and spread it evenly, leaving about an inch of the rim untouched. Sprinkle the surface with the Parmigiano. Distribute the mozzarella, the cauliflower pieces, and then the olives, garlic, and chile flakes evenly over the pizza. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top.
With quick, jerking motions, slide the pie onto the stone. Broil for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes under gas, until the top is bubbling and the crust is nicely charred but not burnt.
Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a tray or serving platter. Sprinkle parsley over the top. Slice and serve.