“Cheese on Bottom” Pizza with Fennel, Cauliflower, and Olives (Gluten and Lactose Free)

This post may contain affiliate links.

Putting the cheese on the bottom of your pizza instead of the top keeps the crust nice and crisp! This tasty version is topped with lactose free mozzarella, fennel, cauliflower, and olives for a ton of flavor.

I created this recipe for my client GO VEGGIE. As always, thank you for supporting the brands that keep me inspired in the kitchen. "Cheese on Bottom" Pizza with Fennel, Cauliflower, and Olives

Let’s talk about pizza – even though we eat pizza almost every week, it’s been almost two years since I made one (Chorizo Pizza with Corn and Zucchini) for the blog! Everyone knows that New York City is famous for its pizza, and for good reason. Here upstate, we do things a little differently. Two of my favorite pizza variations are the cold slice and “cheese on bottom,” also known as COB or Grandma pie.

The first isn’t at all what it sounds like – the pizza is in fact piping hot, but then has a handful of cold shredded cheddar piled on top. It sounds weird, but it works. Cheese on bottom is closer to what it sounds like – instead of putting these cheese on top of the sauce, it gets tucked underneath. Again, it works.

Since the sauce doesn’t come into contact with the crust on a COB pizza, the crust doesn’t get as soft. It’s especially great if you like a saucy pie, like I do. And, since the cheese in underneath everything else, it sticks to the crust better and doesn’t all go sliding off when you take a bit. Plus, it’s just kind of fun.

(Some people would also consider this style of pizza with the sauce on top to be a “Grandma pie” but others would insist those need to be rectangular pizzas baked on a sheet pan. Since I made this pizza in a cast iron skillet, I’ll go with the more universal COB.)
Gluten and Lactose Free Pizza Ingredients

How to make pizza in a cast iron pan

Cooking pizza in a cast iron skillet is something I’ve done here before – I love the way they come out. The bottom gets super crisp and almost shatters when you bite it. I especially love using this method for gluten free crusts, which can tend toward the drier side. Crisping it in a little oil on the stovetop before finishing it in the oven helps make it intentionally crisp and holds it together better than just baking it does.

I piled tons of GO VEGGIE lactose free mozzarella directly on top of the crust, then spooned some quick homemade sauce over the top. The lactose free shreds melt just like regular cheese, and we honestly couldn’t even tell a difference in flavor on these pizzas at all. It also has less fat and calories and just as much calcium as dairy cheese does!

Once the sauce was spooned on, I topped the pizza with thinly sliced fennel – I love how it give the pizza a sausage-like vibe – and briny kalamata olives. I also threw on some cauliflower for good measure. You can’t taste it at all, but it adds some texture and extra nutrients. The pizza bakes right in the same pan that you start the crust in – it takes about 20 minutes for the toppings to cook through and the cheese to melt.

Pull it out of the oven (don’t forget to use a  pot holder!!), top it with loads of GO VEGGIE lactose free parmesan topping and fresh basil, and you’re good to go!

Don’t like this topping combo? Try Crispy Crust Wild Mushroom Pizza or Puff Pastry Pizza with Summer Vegetables + Pesto. Or, ditch the crust and try Pepperoni Pizza Stuffed Peppers
3 Slices of Gluten Free Pizza

How to make pizza in a cast iron pan

Fennel, Cauliflower, and Olive "Cheese on Bottom" Pizza

Most prepared pizza dough comes in 16-ounce balls, but this recipe makes a small pizza that only needs 8 ounces. Freeze the extra dough, or use it to make a second pizza!
Print Pin Save
Servings: 2
Calories: 493kcal


  • 15 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil divided
  • 8 ounces gluten free pizza dough at room temperature
  • 3 ounces GO VEGGIE mozzarella shreds
  • ½ small fennel bulb thinly sliced
  • ½ cup fresh cauliflower florets
  • ¼ cup pitted kalamata olives halved
  • 1 Tablespoon GO VEGGIE parmesan
  • Fresh basil for topping


  • Heat your oven to 450ºF.
  • Combine the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook 10-15 minutes, or until thickened. 
  • Coat your hands with olive oil and stretch the pizza dough until it's the same size as a 9-inch cast iron skillet. 
  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 9-inch skillet set over medium heat. Place the dough in the pan and cook until the bottom is golden brown and the top looks dry, about 5 minutes. 
  • Remove the pan from the heat and top the crust with mozzarella. Spoon the sauce over the cheese, then top with fennel, cauliflower, and olives. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake 20 minutes. 
  • Carefully remove the pizza from the oven and top with parmesan and fresh basil. 
Nutrition Facts
Fennel, Cauliflower, and Olive "Cheese on Bottom" Pizza
Amount Per Serving
Calories 493 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Fat 24g37%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Sodium 434mg19%
Fiber 10g42%
Sugar 16g18%
Protein 17g34%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @HealthyDelish or tag #HealthyDelish!


Hi, I'm Lauren!

I'm a certified plant-based cook and enthusiastic omnivore who loves looking for creative ways to make weeknight meals more nutritious. I'm the author of Heathy Eating One Pot Cookbook and Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook. I also blog at The Busy Foodie. Read more...


Get My Quickstart Guide to Reclaiming Your Weeknights.

Better Meals. Fewer Dishes. 

Thanks! Keep an eye on your inbox for updates.

3 thoughts on ““Cheese on Bottom” Pizza with Fennel, Cauliflower, and Olives (Gluten and Lactose Free)”

  1. Do you make your gluten-free pizza dough or do you buy it somewhere? If you buy it, will you tell me where?

    • I buy it – I love the Portland Pie Co dough (I get it at Hannaford) but there are there are others that are great too. Sometimes they’re in the freezer section, so be sure to look there!

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating (Optional)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.