Can you believe it? In nearly three years of being paleo, I have never tried my hand at a paleo pizza!
This could be due to the fact I’m not a huge fan of pizza myself, a sentiment not shared by the rest of my family, I hasten to add. Or it could be down to the fact that I have found making paleo substitutes for former favorites not to be an entirely successful strategy.
Or it could be that having quietened my family’s longing for stringy cheese, atop squishy tomato sauce, lain upon a fluffy mattress of dough, I didn’t want to remind them of anything, lest the longing return.
Is it all about the toppings?
I topped each pizza with the same ingredients: slices of roma tomatoes, caramelized onions, arugula, prosciutto, goats cheese.
Pizza crust is often bland so that the texture is all you notice and I wanted the testers to compare the crusts to see if they affected the taste and overall “feel” of the pizza, hence the identical toppings.
We held a blind tasting, and with index cards and pencils in hand, my testers wrote their notes and nominated their individual favorite.
I think it’s important to note here that paleo pizza crusts aren’t like regular wheat-based crusts. They are substitutes, they allow pizza toppings to be placed on top, and depending on the recipe, are soft or crunchy, but it isn’t like you wouldn’t notice they were any different from the ones you buy at Domino’s or Round Table. And so for that reason, in addition to our critics I mention above, I added my notes below.
One crust did come close to the “real thing” though, and if you have family or friends who are dying for paleo pizza, please share our results. Those who have done the work to come up with these recipes deserve the recognition and your friends deserve the opportunity to try out the fruits of their labors.
Paleo Pizza #1. The Lucky Penny
This is a cauliflower crust, made with cheese to bind it. Works best thin and cooked to golden. You have to squeeze out the water after the cauliflower is cooked, and doing this until it runs dry is very important or it will take forever to cook. Or it will burn on the edges and still be not quite ready in the middle (talking from experience, here). Comments on this one were, “fits the toppings”, “not flavorful but doesn’t take away from the taste of the toppings”, “crunchy and a bit cheesy”.
Paleo Pizza #2. Food Lovers Primal Palate
This was my first attempt at using a vegetable to make a crust. How ingenious! They used eggplant to provide the main substance of the base. It was thin and crispy (baked on both sides if necessary, but make sure not to burn it). Like with the cauliflower crust, you need to squeeze out the water, and I found it easier to get all the water out of the eggplant compared with the cauliflower. I did not remove the seeds and everyone commented on that – the kids weren’t so keen. Other comments included, “very good crust, has good flavor”, “slightly bitter, goes well with toppings”. From the cookbook Make It Paleo.
Paleo Pizza #3. Paleo Diet Lifestyle
This one was made from a combination of almond and coconut flour. A thicker, flakier crust, it cooked well without being too “doughy”. Coconut flour has a strong taste and again this one was described as “sweet”, as well as “chewy” (in a good way).
Paleo Pizza #4. Foodie Cycles
This is an almond flour crust. Its’ texture was that of bread, it was soft and held its own consistency so that you could make it as thick or thin as you liked, although I think it would break if it was made too thin. A couple of the testers described it as “sweet” and it does have it’s own taste; this one had its’ own nutty distinct flavor.
This is from the new paleo/Primal recipe book, Primal Cravings (out today!) Primal Cravings describes itself as a recipe book where you will find “your favorite foods made paleo” and of all the recipes, this was the one that most closely resembled a traditional wheat-based pizza base. Everyone described it as “chewy” (but that was a good thing, apparently), two described as “sweet” while two more said it was “plain” – which perhaps is how you want your crust. It was made with potato flour so wouldn’t be suitable for those with issues around potatoes.
A non-pizza lover’s perspective
As someone who doesn’t love pizza, who could, even back in the day when I was eating wheat, take or leave pizza, it wasn’t important to me to have a pizza base that was indistinguishable from the original.
I wanted something that allowed me to eat the toppings and which added to the overall experience of eating them.
And so for me the winner was the recipe from Make It Paleo, which was crispy, very thin and, I felt, because of the inclusion of eggplant, unusual and highly nutritious. My husband’s favorite was the cauliflower crust.
Primal Cravings! It was unanimously voted by the kids as their favorite and I guess as such is living up to its billing as the closest substitute for the “real thing”.
So there you have it!
I came to the conclusion that personal preference over pizza crusts is a very individual thing. What I like may be different from your favorite. As with everything, experimentation is key. I do think the unanimous vote of three kids for the Primal Cravings recipe is significant though.
*Photo credit: The Food Lovers Primal Palate
** Unfortunately I wasn’t given permission to post the recipe but you can get ahold of it in Primal Cravings available from Amazon.com
What sort of pizza crust do you like? Do you even make paleo pizza? Or do you simply feel that it isn’t quite the same (it isn’t) and steer clear? Tell us in comments!
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