Jim Lahey's Cauliflower Pie

Squire Fox

Jim Lahey has a thing for charred flavors. His pizzas bake up with crisp leopard spotted crusts giving them a hint of smoke and a lot of crunch. He's employed the same high-heat technique for his Cauliflower Pie from My Pizza, a Béchamel-sauced pizza topped with roasted florets, mozzarella, green olives, chile flakes, and garlic.

While raw cauliflower would be too heavy of a topper, when roasted the moisture is extruded and the florets caramelize in the tastiest of ways. The rest of the toppings have a unexpected harmony; the creamy, nutmeg-spiked Béchamel tones down the salty-spicy-pungent olives, garlic, and chiles, and a bit of mild mozzarella brings it all together in a way that's just kind of perfect.

Cauliflower on pizza? Even if you're not the biggest fan of it, this Cauliflower Pie may very well change you're whole way of thinking about it.

Reprinted with permission from My Pizza by Jim Lahey. Copyright © 2012. Published by Clarkson Potter. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.

Recipe Details

Jim Lahey's Cauliflower Pie

Active 45 mins
Total 45 mins
Serves 1 to 2 servings
Makes 1 pizza


  • 150g (1 1/2 cups) cauliflower florets

  • 1 ball No-Knead Pizza Dough, shaped and waiting on a floured peel

  • 60g (1/4 cup) Béchamel (recipe follows)

  • 10g (3 tablespoons) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese

  • 50g (about 1 3/4 ounces) mozzarella, pulled into 5 clumps

  • 15g (1 1/2 tablespoons) coarsely chopped green olives

  • 1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped

  • Generous pinch chile flakes

  • 10g (1 1/2 tablespoons) fresh bread crumbs

  • Chopped fresh parsley for sprinkling

Béchamel Sauce

  • 486g (2 cups) whole milk

  • 113g (1 stick) unsalted butter

  • 18g (about 2 ¼ tablespoons) all-purpose flour

  • 2g (1/4 teaspoon) fine sea salt

  • 3 rasp grates of nutmeg or a pinch ground nutmeg


  1. Béchamel Sauce: Pour about one-third of the milk into a saucepan. Cut the butter into a few chunks (so they’ll melt more easily) and add to the milk. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring, until the butter melts but without allowing the milk to reach a boil.

  2. 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.

  3. Over medium-low heat, whisk the mixture frequently— to prevent sticking—as it cooks and thickens. The béchamel 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. Use the béchamel immediately or cool,cover, and refrigerate for up to 5 days; bring it back to room temperature before using.

  4. Pizza: Place a pizza stone in a gas oven about 8 inches from the broiler. Preheat the oven to 500°F for 30 minutes.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 chili flakes evenly over the pizza. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top.

  7. With quick, jerking motions, slide the pie onto the stone. Broil for 3 to 31⁄2 minutes under gas (somewhat longer with an electric oven), until the top is bubbling and the crust is nicely charred but not burnt.

  8. Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a tray or serving platter. Sprinkle parsley over the top. Slice and serve.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
458 Calories
17g Fat
59g Carbs
17g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1 to 2
Amount per serving
Calories 458
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 7g 34%
Cholesterol 33mg 11%
Sodium 825mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 59g 22%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 36mg 180%
Calcium 240mg 18%
Iron 4mg 20%
Potassium 273mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)