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beet “pesto” cauliflower pizza with greens

by Jackie Newgent  |  May 4, 2015  |  1 Comment

Beet “Pesto” Cauliflower Pizza with Greens

It was such as pleasure hosting two amazing food-loving dietetic interns this spring. One of them, Lucy Song, has a terrific palate for plant-based cuisine and an eye for photography. So as part of her internship experience, I asked her to create a recipe makeover for Meatless Monday. Here’s her story behind this recipe.

Lucy Song

I first discovered the delectable flavor combination of pear and cheese a few years ago in the form of a Quattro Formaggio Pear Pizza at a cute Italian restaurant in Old City, Philadelphia. That afternoon, I had dragged my patient boyfriend all over the neighborhood as I sought to satisfy my voracious craving for Italian food. We finally decided on this spot, and the pizza was incredible. In this recipe, I sought to create a lighter version of this pizza with a twist that satisfies both my love for pear and cheese, and also my love for vibrant colors and flavorful vegetables. The end result was a delicious cauliflower crust with a cool, refreshing beet “pesto” and a crisp pear and cheese salad to top. We hope you enjoy. Bon appétit! (Or perhaps I should say, buon appetito!) ~ Lucy Song

Calories saved: 240 (or more!)

Why it’s better for you? Vegetables are features of all three parts of this pizza—the crust, “sauce” and topping!

beet “pesto” cauliflower pizza with greens

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 1 pizza

beet “pesto” cauliflower pizza with greens


  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets (4 1/2 cups packed; 18 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed fresh baby arugula or baby kale (1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 Bosc pear, cored and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, pan-toasted, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe Beet “Pesto” (see recipe below)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Add the cauliflower florets to a food processor in 2 batches, cover, and pulse until cauliflower “rice” forms.
  2. Transfer the cauliflower “rice” to a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until cooked through yet still firm, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Add the chickpea flour, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the cooled cauliflower “rice” and stir to evenly combine. Add the eggs and stir until well combined.
  4. Divide the cauliflower “dough” into 4 equal portions. Using a spatula, form into 6-inch pancake-like rounds on unbleached parchment paper-lined baking sheet(s). Bake until cooked through and golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet(s) on racks for at least 30 minutes.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the arugula, pear, Gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and toss to coat.
  6. Once the crust has cooled, spread 1/4 rounded cup of beet “pesto” onto each pizza crust. Top with the salad. Enjoy with a fork and knife.


Per pizza: 470 calories, 37g total fat, 8g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 115mg cholesterol, 830mg sodium, 25g total carbohydrate, 7g dietary fiber, 9g sugars, 17g protein

NOTE: This entrée recipe can also be made into an appetizer version of 12 to 16 small pizza rounds.

BEET "PESTO": 1 1/4 cups cooked sliced beets, such as Love Beets (8 ounces) ~ 1/3 cup walnuts, pan-toasted ~ Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon (1 1/2 tablespoons juice) ~ 3 large cloves garlic, chopped ~ 1/2 teaspoon sea salt ~ 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper ~ 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Add the beets, walnuts, lemon juice and zest, garlic, salt, and pepper to a food processor. Pulse until well combined. Pour in the olive oil and continue to pulse until a paste-like texture forms. Chill until ready to serve. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

The “Before” Version

Inspired by pizza similar to California Pizza Kitchen’s Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza

Per pizza: 1420 calories, 68g total fat, 31g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 150mg cholesterol, 2330mg sodium, 157g total carbohydrate, 12g dietary fiber, 23g sugars, 51g protein

Per 1/2 pizza: 710 calories, 34g total fat, 16g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 75mg cholesterol, 1165mg sodium, 79g total carbohydrate, 6g dietary fiber, 12g sugars, 26g protein


Tasteover Tips

  • When you make your own pizza, you’re able to decide exactly how much of every ingredient you want and adjust to your own taste and health preferences
  • When it’s a good match, incorporate lemon zest into a recipe and you’ll be able to use a little less salt in a recipe and still have equally great taste
  • Think beyond traditional tomato sauce and standard toppings; top pizza with other vegetable-based sauces, like beet “pesto,” and salad to add eye appeal and palate intrigue

Beet “Pesto” Cauliflower Pizza with Greens_half

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