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Cauliflower Crust Appetizers

Cauliflower Christmas Trees

I found an idea online that reminded me of the cauliflower pizza crust I’d made for pizza awhile back. The idea was little triangle trees, and I thought they’d be super cute made out of the cauli crusts. I could make the crusts, cut them into wedges and decorate them. Cute and healthy!

I made spinach dip using my from-scratch recipe I posted earlier and refrigerated it until needed.  I made the cauliflower crusts using a recipe I posted earlier. This was going to be easy!

Put cauliflower chunks into food processor

Put cauliflower chunks into food processor

I cut my cauliflower into large chunks and put them in the food processor.  I pulsed them until they were rice-sized pieces. I microwaved the cauliflower on high for 4 minutes, then let it cool.

Rice-sized pieces

Rice-sized pieces

I put the cauliflower into my jelly strainer bag and squeezed the water out. You could also use a cotton cloth or cheesecloth. I squeezed and squeezed and am always amazed at how much moisture comes out of the cauliflower! But the more moisture that is squeezed out, the crisper the crust will be.  I didn’t take pictures of the process, you’ll have to imagine it.

Measure rest of ingredients and mix well with a fork or your fingers

Measure rest of ingredients and mix well with a fork or your fingers

Next I measured and mixed in the rest of the crust ingredients. I do that with my fingers as well; it is easier to blend it all and the cauliflower needs a little fluffing and separating after it is pressed together as the moisture is squeezed out.

Form into circles on parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray

Form into circles on parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray

I sprayed parchment paper with cooking spray and formed the mixture into four rounds on one sheet pan and one round on a second sheet pan. I made sure the edges were a bit thicker so they didn’t darken or burn so fast while baking.

Bake for 18 minutes or until edges are browned

Bake for 18 minutes or until edges are browned

My oven was preheated to 450°F and I slid the first pan into the oven to bake. Since they were smaller, I only baked them for about 18 minutes. I was going to put them in the oven to crisp up just before serving anyway.

Baked crust

Baked crust

I baked the second pan and when they were all cooled I stacked them between pieces of waxed paper and froze them in a zippered freezer bag.  I love when I can make foods ahead of time and avoid last minute stress.

Thaw on rack

Thaw on rack

Taking them out of the freezer a few days later, I thawed them on a rack then crisped them in the oven for a few minutes at 450°F. I’d decided to spread spinach dip on them, then sprinkle them with little pieces of diced tomato. Green and red, they’d be appropriate on the Christmas Even buffet.

I started cutting them into wedges but my son stopped me and suggested I spread the dip on the whole round first. Duh. Good idea! I turned the whole project over to him and he did a good job spreading the dip then cutting them into little trees.

Arrange on a serving plate

Arrange on a serving plate

I stuck the pretzels on the bottom of the trees, wedging them into the crust when possible, or sticking them into the dip when the crust was too crispy. Daughter Emily decorated them with the pieces of tomato and they were adorable arranged on a glass plate.

I used a spinach dip recipe I’d adapted because any recipe I’ve found uses either mayo or a package of ranch dip mix. Neither of those agree with most of the family so a more natural version is necessary. We love the spinach dip, and spread on the cauliflower crust it is perfect. Topped with tomatoes, it was a super healthy appetizer. I’d have liked to do some black olives as well, but the kids aren’t fans of those. Maybe next time.

Cauliflower Christmas Trees

Cauliflower Christmas Trees

The flavors were excellent; the garlic and cheese flavor of the crust was a nice base for the creamy spinach dip.  The tomatoes were a small bonus.  Even leftover the next day they were great.  They’d also be a good appetizer any time of the year, minus the pretzel tree trunks.

Cauliflower Spinach Christmas Trees

1 recipe cauliflower crust found here, baked in 5 smaller rounds
1 recipe spinach dip found here
2 Roma tomatoes, finely diced
Handful of small pretzel sticks

Spread the crisped crusts with spinach dip.

Cut each round into 6 wedges.

Stick a halved pretzel stick into the bottom of each crust or secure with a glob of spinach dip.

Place little pieces of tomato as decorations.

Serve on a platter.

Makes 30 small trees

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