I grew an eggplant … once.
It was small.
It was tasty.
But it wasn’t this year.
Because to grow eggplant in Montana … well … it sort of takes either a greenhouse or a really green thumb. Like … an emerald green thumb. Mine is sort of kelly green (and getting greener every year!). Also, eggplant comes in male and female parts on each plant and it just seems uber complicated. But we have this friend Alexis that the Cowboy affectionately calls “The Butter Maid,” or “Mermaid.” She babysits for us once in a while. And she and her husband have emerald green thumbs.
Alexis brought us some of the bounty from their over-flowing garden a few days ago. And in the mix … you guessed it … Eggplant. Deep purple and perfect. (Of course, I didn’t take a photo.)
And eggplant means one of three things in our house: Abby’s ultimate veggie sandwich, baba ganoush (a recipe I’ll have to share the next time we get an eggplant delivery), and roasted eggplant pizza.
- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- pizza dough
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 super-ripe tomato
- 4-5 fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella, parmesan and/or asiago cheese blend works really well)
First things first, we get our pizza dough from a local bakery called On the Rise Bread Co. I have made my own dough in the past using Ina Garten’s recipe (and it’s delicious, but not a “real food” recipe. And the Cowboy has made a sourdough pizza dough that’s excellent, but I haven’t gotten the low-down from him yet on how he makes it. So for ease, I rely on On the Rise.
Once you’ve got your dough, the eggplant needs to be roasted before it goes on the pizza. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Thinly slice (as thin as you can manage) the eggplant and put it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and using a pastry brush, coat each with a swab of olive oil. And a little salt and pepper. Turn them over and do the same to the other side.
Bake for about 15 minutes, turning them over about halfway through cooking. It’s okay if the eggplant isn’t perfectly cooked at this point because it will cook a little more on the pizza. When the eggplant is done cooking, remove it from the oven and turn the heat up to 500 degrees.
Because now it’s time for the actual pizza. We use a pizza stone. If you are using a pizza stone, put it in the oven so it can get a little warm while the oven preheats. When the oven reaches temperature, remove the stone. (If you are not using a pizza stone, you can use almost any baking dish with low or no sides and you can skip the preheating the pan step.) Sprinkle it with cornmeal (which will keep your pizza from sticking), Work the pizza to a rough version of the shape you want and put it on top of the cornmeal (you’ll be able to use a small rolling pin to stretch it a little further, but what you put on the pan is pretty much what you get, so take a little time with the dough to get it to the thickness you like).
Then comes the sauce. I use a cup of the heirloom tomato sauce that we talk about so much on this site. Then a layer of eggplant.
I cut the basil into thin ribbons and evenly spread them over the eggplant. Then 3/4 of the cheese. Then the tomatoes. The riper the tomato the better.
And then finally, the last of the cheese.
Bake at 500 degrees for 12-15 minutes (or until the crust is as brown and crisp as you like, and the cheese is all melty goodness).
Makes one 24 inch round pizza and about 4 servings (although when we made this the other night it served six because Abby and her littles were here while her hubby was working in his music studio and it was plenty for the six of us).
And honestly, it’s pizza … but it’s pizza we feel pretty good about.
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