I love eggplants! Chunky purple American eggplant, somewhat smaller confetti purple Italian eggplant, long and slender Chinese eggplant, golf-ball sized Indian eggplant, white round Thai eggplant….you name it, I love it! I like them prepared in any way – curries, roasted and added to salads or transformed to baba ganoush, layered in vegetarian lasagna, indulgingly breaded and fried, or simply layered on with other roasted vegetables as a “melt”! As you can see, I am somewhat obsessed with this vegetable and my love goes back to my childhood. My other favorite vegetable is bitter gourd or Chinese bitter melon. I will have to add a post on that as well!
I bought this beautiful Italian eggplant the other day and was debating which route to take with it. After bit of self contemplation, I settled for a “melt”. I had some fresh mozzarella and sweet red peppers sitting around and figured they would go well together. This recipe is so quick and easy to put together. You start with roasting the eggplant and red peppers. Then, you just layer them with sliced tomato and mozzarella and bake them till the cheese melts into a ooey gooey goodness. Just top it with a bit of prepared pesto and voila, you have yourself a delicious stack (or two) of cheesy, yummy veggie melt!
Roasted Veggie Melt with Mozzarella
1 medium sized Italian (or American) eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 beef steak tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 medium sized sweet red pepper, core removed and quartered
Eight 1/8″ slices of fresh mozzarella
2 tablespoons prepared pesto
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Turn broiler on to “high”
2. Arrange eggplant slices and red pepper on a baking sheet sprayed with non stick cooking spray. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and turn to coat the other side as well.
3. Roast the vegetables for 4-6 minutes in the top rack of the oven till they turn golden. Turn over and roast the other side as well (another 4 – 6 minutes).
4. Remove the veggies from the oven. Turn oven to 375F.
5. Stack the vegetables on a greased baking tray in the order of eggplant, tomato and mozzarella, seasoning each layer with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Repeat the layer once more. Top with a piece of roasted red pepper. Secure the “deck” with a toothpick.
6. Bake for about 4-6 minutes till cheese melts and the “deck” is heated through.
7. Serve immediately with a light drizzle of pesto and olive oil.
I like pizza. I don’t know if I love it, but I certainly enjoy it every now and then. Having said that, anytime someone suggests a carryout pizza, I am usually not keen with the choice. I just don’t feel good about chomping down on a slice of a typical carryout pizza – with a massive crust made with all white flour, tons of cheese (I wonder if it is all 100% dairy based), so-so sauce and a smattering of toppings that you may or may not really care for – leave alone worry about the calories! So, that pretty much leaves me with wanting (and in a peculiar way, longing) to make home-made pizza that not only tastes good but better for you!
I like to try out different recipes for the crust, preferring to use a combo of flours. This recipe, to everyone’s delight, turned out to be soooo good – crispy and chewy with a nutty note. I wish I had some whole wheat flour on hand to replace some of the all-purpose flour with (what a crime!). Next time! Anyway, if you are the type that loves this type of crust, forget about the Chicago-style deep dish crust, and give this one a try. I think your body will thank for it as well! 🙂
Crispy and Healthy Pizza
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (replace some of the white flour with whole wheat if you would like)
1/2 cup soy flour
1/4 cup ground flax
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 packet active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon wheat bran
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup pizza sauce
1/2 – 2/3 cup part-skim mozzarella (for one pizza)
1/2 -2/3 cup sliced fresh mozzarella (for other pizza)
1/2 cup diced chicken breast
1/2 cup diced green peppers
1 cup broiled or sautéed broccoli florets
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2 slices of cooked bacon slices, crumbled
1. Mix all purpose flour, soy flour, ground flax, salt, yeast and sugar in a stand mixer or a large bowl (I went with the bowl this time around).
2. Add the olive oil, followed by warm water in a slow stream and mix to form a dough.
3. If the dough is too sticky, add a tablespoon of all-purpose or whole wheat flour. If it is too dry, add a tablespoon of warm water.
4. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes to make a smooth dough.
5. Coat a large bowl with the additional tablespoon of olive oil. Place the dough ball there and toss to coat with oil.
6. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave in a warm, drought-free spot till the dough doubles in size.
7. When ready to prepare the pizza, preheat oven to 500F.
8. Punch down the dough and divide into two parts.
9. Sprinkle a cookie sheet or pizza stone with wheat bran (or cornmeal if you prefer) and flatten one part of dough to a thin crust, about 1/4 inch thick. You can flatten using the tips of your fingers. Repeat with the other part of the dough.
10. Bake the crust for about 7 minutes. Remove from oven.
11. Spread about 1/2 cup of pizza sauce of your preference. Sprinkle with part-skim mozzarella cheese or sliced fresh mozzarella. Follow with toppings of your choice. I used a combination of broiled broccoli, green peppers, baby bella mushrooms, green onions, diced cooked chicken breast and bit of cooked and crumbled center-cut bacon.
12. Bake the pizza till cheese melts and toppings (fresh veggies and pre-cooked meats) are heated through (about 5-7 minutes).