Eggplant is one of my very favourite vegetables, although it tends to require more forethought than I usually put into cooking, so I don’t buy them that often. But I inherited a couple eggplant from a friend of mine who was heading out of town, so I decided to do my very favourite thing with them: slice them in quarter-inch thick slices, squeeze the water out of them and fry them. This is what you do to eggplant before making a parmigiana – a family favourite – and I have fond memories of stealing cooked slices while my mother wasn’t looking. But it is much much to hot to be baking anything in the oven for more than ten minutes, so I decided I would use my delicious eggplant coins for a pizza. Throw in some farmers market zucchini, a roasted red pepper, asiago and goat cheeses, and some soy mexican-style chorizo from Trader Joe’s, and you have the makings of a pretty tasty pizza.
- 2 small or 1 large Italian eggplant, sliced into coins, drained and fried (feel free to peel the eggplant if you prefer. I like the way it looks and taste with the peel, but some people prefer it without.)
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1 green zucchini, sliced
- 1 red pepper, roasted and sliced
- 1/2 package Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo (or real chorizo, or other brand soy chorizo.) Note: this soy chorizo is Mexican style, which means its really just a ground in a sausage casing, which has to be removed before cooking, so the result is a bunch of tasty spicy crumbles – unlike a Spanish or Portugese style chorizo, which usually has an edible casing and can be sliced like standard sausage. Also, I’m not usually all that fond of ‘fake meat’ because it tends to be full of sodium and preservatives and other terrible things, but I was very intrigued by this so I tried it out and it was quite good. I probably won’t make a habit of using it, just because ‘textured soy protein’ as a main ingredient weirds me out.
- goat cheese
- asiago, grated
- your favourite pizza dough recipe, or purchased dough or crust (I use Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough, which is fresh, very tasty and only a dollar.)
- your favourite pizza sauce (I usually get a small can of pre-made pizza sauce or sauce, or just crushed tomatoes if I can find the really little cans – the Italpasta pizza sauce is pretty good – and then add tons more spices too it, especially black pepper, hot pepper flakes and oregano. Tons of oregano. Plus some basil and parsley and onion and garlic powder, or a minced garlic clove. If I have 2 or 3 fresh tomatoes, I’ll usually dice and sort of mush those instead of using the canned stuff – but the cans are really convenient to have on hand, and then you don’t have to open an enormous can of crushed tomatoes and use only 6 tablespoons of it.
Slice eggplant about a quarter inch thick, crosswise (ie into coins). Layer coins in a bowl, adding a bit of salt to each layer (this will help remove the moisture – if you fry the eggplant without squeezing out the liquid they absorb way too much oil), place a place and weight on top of the eggplant and let them sit for several hours so the water can be squeezed out. The easiest way to do this is to prep the eggplant in the morning and they’ll be ready by dinner. Once they’ve sat pour off the water and heat about a quarter inch-deep of vegetable oil in a frying pan. Make sure its quite hot before adding the eggplant so they cook quickly and don’t absorb too much oil. Fill the pan with a single layer of eggplant coins, and flip them over once with a fork while they cook – a few minutes on each side, until they’re lightly browned and shriveled around the edged. Remove them to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat until all the eggplant is cooked. Set aside.
Place red pepper on baking sheet under the broiler to roast. As you are waiting slice the zucchini. You’ll want to turn the red pepper over at least once under the broiler. Remove when its skin is blackened and slightly blistered. Place in a paper bag and cool. When it’s cooled enough to touch, peel off the skin (it should come off easily with your fingers) and slice.
Remove soy chorizo from its casing. Be careful doing this, because it is very crumbly and wet will fall everywhere. Also, the spices in it will turn every surface they touch red. So I recommend doing this over a bowl, or over the pan you will cook it in. Cook in a pan with some vegetable oil until browned and a little drier.
Assemble pizza, topping with grated asiago and dollops of goat cheese. Cook in preheated 425 F oven for 10-ish minutes, or until your crust is cooked and your cheese nicely melted.