The outdoor market is one of the highlights of my week. It’s my chance to pick up some plump Medjool dates, pick out bunches of fresh veggies, and get my hands on some amazing Italian cheese. It’s also a great chance to practice Italian with the local merchants. Today is that much brighter after buying fresh flowers, carrots, spring garlic, spring onions, and fennel.
To be honest, I had only eaten fennel a handful of times before coming to Italy, and boy, was I missing out. Fennel is a staple in Italian cooking and I am so grateful for the different versions I have been exposed to. I adore fennel’s slight liquorice flavor and its wonderful versatility. It is great raw or cooked, added to salads for some crunch, or baked in the oven with some cheese, breadcrumbs, and fresh herbs. Fennel sauteed with coconut oil, raisins, and pine nuts is heavenly. Fennel is anti-inflammatory, aids in digestion, and contains vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
I am also discovering the magic of fennel seeds, which add delicious depth and flavor to sauces and soups. Sometimes I even nibble on them to freshen my breath. I recently made this recipe from Green Kitchen Stories and wooooah baby was it packed with amazing flavor!
I left the market feeling some powerful fennel inspiration and so I decided to make this gluten-free pizza with caramelized fennel and goat cheese for my host family. I joked to my host mother that I must be breaking some sort of Italian law with this gluten-free crust but it turns out they loved it! I mean, can you really go wrong with sweet caramelized fennel and goat cheese?
Gluten-Free Fennel & Goat Cheese Pizza
Inspired by My New Roots’ recipe
Makes one medium-sized pizza
Ingredients for topping:
1 large fennel bulb
1 large tomato [optional]
1/2 cup soft goat cheese
olive or coconut oil
2-3 tbsp. fennel seeds
2 tbsp. balsamic glaze [can also use honey or maple syrup]
bunch of arugula
1 small head cauliflower
3/4-1 cup shredded mozzarella
2 tsp. herbs of choice [I used oregano and garlic]
Directions for crust:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease with olive or coconut oil.
2. Wash and dry the head of cauliflower and then cut off the florets. Place the florets in a food processor and process until cauliflower resembles rice. Place in a bowl and microwave for 5-6 minutes.
3. While cauliflower is cooking, mix the egg, cheese, salt and herbs in a separate bowl until combined. Drain cooked cauliflower in a sieve, pressing with a spoon to drain as much water from the cauliflower as possible. Add the cooked cauliflower to the egg & cheese mixture and mix well.
4. Spread mixture onto the covered baking sheet and spread until your preferred thickness [I like mine to resemble more of a flatbread]. Bake for 15 minutes and let cool.
Directions for topping:
1. While crust is cooking, prepare the topping. Wash fennel and remove fronds. Cut vertically into thin slices.
2. Heat coconut or olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Place fennel on the pan, making sure the pieces are flat and not overlapping. Sprinkle with sea salt.
3. Wait for the fennel to become golden-brown on the underside and then flip the pieces over. Let the other side become golden-brown.
4. Add the fennel seeds and balsamic glaze to the pan and toss to coat. Cook fennel for another minute and remove from pan.
1. Once the crust has cooled, drizzle with olive oil. Lay the fennel pieces on top [and slices of tomato if using] then place pieces of goat cheese evenly over the top.
2. Bake in the oven for another 3-5 minutes or until the goat cheese has slightly browned. Remove from oven and dress with fresh arugula.