Cauliflower Crust Lachmajin (Middle Eastern Meat Pies)
Growing up an Ashkenaz (Eastern European) Jewish girl in Brooklyn, I was exposed to the small but mighty Syrian Jewish community. I learned to love a lot about the Syrian community but chief among them was the food. One of the better known Syrian dishes is Lachmajin, which literally translates to meat pies, a perfect description for these sort of mini meat pizzas. Different cultures do lachmajins differently - some make a whole 12" crust, others use puff pastry in place of a pizza dough - but I've always gravitated towards the tanginess and the bite-sized nature of the Syrian variety.
I recently saw a meme that said something along the lines of, "Welcome to your 30s where all carbohydrates are replaced with cauliflower." I think I may have been bit with this bug early. (Does that make me an old soul?) As much as I love lachmajin, consuming pizza dough and challah every Friday night just isn't sustainable for me at this point. Enter: the cauliflower crust lachmajin.
The crust is fairly simple though I encourage you to read the directions quite closely as the devil is in the details in this one. Now you can have your meat pizzas and eat them too, all without the guilt.
Makes two dozen
For the crust: 4 8-ounce packages of riced cauliflower 2 eggs 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
For the meat: 1 pound ground beef 1 shallot, minced or grated 1 tablespoon tomato paste Juice of 1/2 lemon 1 tablespoon tamarind paste 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1. Transfer the cauliflower rice to a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 10 minutes. Remove from the microwave and allow the cauliflower to cool completely. This will take some time; you can transfer the cauliflower to a cold bowl or dish towel which will expedite the process a little. 2. In the meantime combine the beef, shallot, tomato paste, lemon juice, tamarind paste, cumin and cinnamon in a bowl and use your hands to combine the mixture. 3. Preheat the oven to 400°F 4. When the cauliflower has cooled transfer it to a cheesecloth, nut milk bag or clean dish towel and squeeze all the liquid out of the cauliflower. There will be between 1/2 cup to 1 cup of liquid; it is imperative you squeeze out as much liquid as you can. 5. Add the cauliflower back to the bowl along with the eggs and nutritional yeast. 6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 7. Use your hands to form the cauliflower mixture into small mini pizza sized rounds. You want them to be fairly flat, like a pizza dough. Place the rounds on the parchment paper. When you’ve used all the cauliflower, transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes, until the cauliflower is a deep brown color. (You should watch fairly closely; depending on your oven they may cook faster.) 8. Once they’ve browned, raise the heat to 450°F and cook for another 5-10 minutes. This extra time dries out any remaining water in the cauliflower mixture, allowing the cauliflower to really adhere together as a crust. When ready, the edges of the crusts will be a deep brown, almost black at this point. 9. Remove the crusts from the oven and lower the temperature to 350°F. 10. Spread a heaping amount of the meat mixture onto each of the crusts, spreading it all the way to the edge. The meat will shrink as it cooks so put more than you think you need. Transfer the lachmajins to the oven and cook until the meat browns, about 30 minutes.