Panino di Pizza With Cauliflower and Romesco 4.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Smackdown VIII Jan 29, 2014

This is where pizza dough can act like pita: You put it in a hot oven, untopped, and it rises into a dome, allowing you to slice it open and fill it like a sandwich while keeping everything much crisper than, say, a calzone. Store-bought pizza dough varies; the ones that performed best in testing for this recipe were fresh dough from the bakery/pizza station at Whole Foods Market and a frozen version by Brooklyn Pizza Dough Co., also available at Whole Foods. (Dough from Trader Joe's is wetter and bakes up more like ciabatta: chewier and less crisp, without the puff of air.) You can, of course, use a homemade dough.

Make Ahead: Frozen dough needs to be defrosted before baking; follow the package directions. The romesco sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. The roasted cauliflower can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • For the cauliflower
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • For the romesco sauce
  • 1/2 cup cubed multigrain bread (from 1 small slice)
  • 1 plum tomato, cored and cut into large chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup (about 4 ounces) jarred roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
  • For the panino
  • Flour, for the work surface
  • 1-pound ball store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature (see headnote)
  • 2 cups lightly packed arugula
  • 4 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, shaved or grated

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Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Set a pizza stone or inverted baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven.

For the cauliflower: Core the head and break the cauliflower into large florets, then cut those into 1/2-inch slices. Toss them on a rimmed baking sheet with the oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast until deeply browned on the bottom, 15 to 20 minutes. Use a spatula to turn them over; roast until browned on the top, 10 minutes. Cover loosely to keep warm.

For the romesco sauce: Toss together the bread, tomato, garlic, almonds, salt and 1 tablespoon of the oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, tossing occasionally with tongs, until the mixture browns in spots and the garlic is slightly tender when pressed, 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor. Add the red peppers, paprika, cayenne, if using, vinegar and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Puree until smooth. Taste, and add salt and vinegar as needed.

For the panino: Increase the oven temperature to 550, if possible.

Liberally dust a work surface with flour. Use your hands to press and stretch the dough, working from the center, into a 9-inch round. Transfer to the pizza stone; bake until it puffs to form a dome, browns all over and sounds hollow when tapped, 5 to 10 minutes.

Transfer immediately to a cutting board; let cool briefly, then use a serrated knife to cut the crust in half horizontally, being careful to avoid the escaping steam. Remove the top.

Build the panino by spreading about 3/4 cup of the romesco sauce over the inside of the bottom crust. Layer with the roasted cauliflower slices, overlapping them as needed, the arugula, and the cheese. Smear the remaining romesco sauce on the cheese.

Put the domed top back on. Use the serrated knife to cut the panino into 8 wedges. Serve right away.

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Recipe Source

From Food editor Joe Yonan, with a crust inspired by a Roberto Donna recipe from "In Julia’s Kitchen With Master Chefs," by Julia Child (Knopf, 1995). The filling was inspired by a sandwich at G in Northwest Washington.

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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