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Roasted Seasoned Eggplant Pizza

I remember standing in line late one night, or rather early one morning, on a New Years Eve down in Hermosa Beach at one of our favorite local NY Style Pizza slice specialists called Paisanos.  I always used to joke with my wife and friends when one of the owners would call out to someone “Hey Paisano!”  I would say, “I thought I was Paisano!”  When they showed up a few years back, when I was a younger man, I would more often than not find myself wandering by looking for a slice or two after being out…if you know what I mean.  It was refreshing to have a good slice place in town where you had some actual New Yorkers there to yell at you with their indignant charm.  It adds to the atmosphere!  On this fateful New Years morning I placed my order for my favorite Paisanos Pizza — their Roasted Eggplant and Sliced Tomato Pie.  It turned out to be the LAST pizza of the night.  Remember, I told you only an inch above, that it was late!

You all know how good a late night slice of pizza can taste.  Now imagine it’s the last late night whole pizza available and there’s a line out the door behind you.  My small group of friend’s formed a wedge as we moved out the door and ran for our lives to catch a cab home.

Perhaps this is why I love eggplant on a pizza so much.  There’s a story of triumph connecting me more solidly to what was already a favorite pizza.  I was recently in our forum looking around and eggplant came up, which is why I grabbed a nice little Japanese Eggplant the next time I was at the store.  How had I waited so long to play with this ingredient at home?  It turns out, Peter has an equal fascination with eggplant and claims to make a wicked roasted eggplant, so hopefully, we’ll follow this up with more recipes and playtime.

This one is pretty simple.  I was winging it.  I had a few other pizzas I was making featuring Tri-Tip and decided to make one of my other pizzas this simple, but delicious assembly of ingredients.  It turned out quite nice and actually spurred an idea I have been kicking around that you are just going to have to wait to hear about.

To the kitchen!

Roasted Seasoned Eggplant Pizza

Pizza Quest Signature Beer Dough
Simply Red Tomatoes turned into Peter’s Crushed Tomato Sauce
*Any quality canned tomato will work
Fresh Mozzarella *I used Bel Gioioso’s
1 Japanese Eggplant sliced about 1/4″ thick
Sliced Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil

Peter’s Crushed Tomato Sauce is a perfect pizza sauce. Once you make it a few times following his recipe, you can start to do it on your own, just adding what feels right.  This is so simple and tastes so fresh I really don’t see any reason to do anything else when I’m using a tomato sauce.  When I first tried it after reading Peter’s book, American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza, I literally thought, “This is it! This is the perfect pizza sauce.”  Now I know perfect is not possible, but this may be an exception.

Roasted the Eggplant:

Get your oven going early to Pre-Heat your pizza stone to the highest temperature for at least an hour before cooking your pizzas.  I threw the eggplant into the oven while it was heating up to pre-roast the eggplant.

Peel the skin off the eggplant and slice into thick (1/4″ slices).
In a bowl mix the slices with Bread Crumbs and add in some herbs and spices to give them that special touch.  I poured a little Olive Oil and then added some Oregano, Basil, Garlic Powder, Salt, Pepper and actually a little Cayenne because I’m insane.  You’ll see I didn’t overdue it in the photos.

I pre-roasted them until browned pulling them out of the oven in time to allow them to finish up on the pizza.  I didn’t time, but think it was about 20 minutes.  Check it after 10, 15 etc.

The Prep and Build:

Build the pizza by placing the Crushed Tomato Sauce on the dough.

I added a swirl of Olive Oil to the sauce

Add pinches of the fresh Mozzaarella

Add the Roasted Eggplant

Add sliced/chopped basil after the bake.

Add the sliced tomatoes *Play with the thickness of the tomatoes to affect how much moisture they will hold after baking.

The Final Bake:

Place pizza into the oven.  If you have it, switch the oven over to Convection Bake, which seems to give me a better bake.

Check the pizza in about 7 Minutes.  When it’s done, remove it.

This pizza came out beautifully.  I used a thicker cut on my tomatoes, so the overall pizza, was initially “wet”.  But, as it cooled, it settled down.  I added the basil, sliced it up and remembered a simpler time, before kids, late one evening, walking down the street with some friends and a piping hot Roasted Eggplant Pizza from Paisanos.

*The cayenne was interesting.  Play with the seasoning on the eggplant, it’s a great vehicle for flavor.  With the bread crumbs and pre-roasting you also get a little crunchy texture going on after the final bake and even some charred crispy bits.

Give this a try and send us your own versions with photos and a story!

Enjoy!

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Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.

Peter’s Books

American Pie
Artisan Breads Every Day
The Bread Bakers Apprentice
Brother Junipers Bread Book
Crust and Crumb
Whole Grain Breads

...and other books by Peter Reinhart, available on Amazon.com