Melanzane Pizza with Roasted Garlic Sauce

My first introduction to Bertucci’s was while visiting a friend in Boston many moons ago.  And on that first trip I had my first melanzane pizza.  Love at first bite.  So, on this, another Friday night pizza night I’ve decided to use the eggplant I bought at the farmer’s market last week and make melanzane pizza.  Yum!  I’ve been excited about this all day.  I’ve got some italian sausage and caramelized onions in the freezer so pizza 2 will use those with the rest of the carmine peppers from last week’s farmers’ market run.  A friend is coming to hang out and bringing an arugula salad to go with.  A fun evening that allows me to stay in my sweat pants.

This is homemade pizza at its finest, but not overly high maintenance.  I made 2 kinds.  Of course the melanzane and then also a pizza with hot italian sausage, caramelized onions and charred carmine peppers.  The melanzane was the real effort and the sausage was the gimme.  I had the sausage and onions frozen together so I just had to julienne the peppers and make a crust.  Easy.

Dealing with eggplant is a little more involved.  First you have to pull some of the liquid out.  Slice the eggplant, sprinkle it with salt and put it between layers of dish towels or paper towels.  You have a number of choices after that.  You can bread the eggplant and fry it; you can bread it and bake it; or you can bake it plain right on the pizza.  I find that when I bake it on the pizza it doesn’t get quite done enough for me.  Tonight I decided to go whole hog and pan fry it.

The sauce is easy, but it takes time.  If you make it from scratch remember that when you cook down a recipe the flavors are concentrated so be careful not to add too much salt in the beginning. If you make pizza at home a lot make the sauce in big batches. It freezes beautifully.  If you have a favorite jar sauce use that.

I know this sounds like a lot of work, and we haven’t talked about the crust yet, but most of it can be done ahead.  You can make the sauce and cook the eggplant a day or so beforehand.  You can make the crust dough weeks ahead and freeze it if you like.  All that’s left is to roll out the dough, top it and bake it.

I have developed an attachment to this no rise dough from Robbie’s Recipes.  The melanzane is made on that and cooked on the pizza stone.  I used a quick rise recipe for the other crust.  Give Pizza Dough Prestissimo a try if you like a crust that has a little more bread, but not too much.  Or feel free to use a store bought crust.  Bear in mind that some pizzerias will sell uncooked balls of dough.  That’s a nice way to have “homemade” crust and know that it will come out right!

One not terrific decision for tonight.  I tried to cook both pizzas in my small convection oven at the same time.  Not quite enough air circulated to each pizza so the crust wasn’t exactly right.  I continue in my pursuit of the perfect crust.

Good? I’ve said it before – what’s not good about pizza?
Easy? It can be as easy as you like.
Good for company? Really fun for a party. Let everyone top their own crust.
Special shopping? Nope. Use pizza as a way to finish up odds and ends from the fridge.

Melanzane Pizza

You need:

1 12-inch crust

Roasted Garlic Sauce

Heat olive oil in a deep skillet.
Add 1 quart of home canned or 1 28oz commercial canned tomatoes.
Add 3 cloves roasted garlic.
Bring to a simmer and cook down, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until liquid has dissipated.
Makes enough for 2 twelve-inch pizzas.

Eggplant:
Slice one medium eggplant
Salt each slice and place it between layers of towels. Let them rest 10 minutes.
Set out 3 shallow bowls one each with cornmeal, milk and breadcumbs.
Dredge each eggplant slice in each shallow bowl and set aside.
Heat a skillet with enough olive oil to cover the bottom. Heat until oil shimmers.
Add as many eggplant slices as can lay flat in the skillet. Fry 2 minutes.
Turn each slice and fry an additional 2 minutes. Remove to a platter.
Continue until all slices are cooked.

Cheese:
Dice fresh mozzarella into 1/2 inch cubes. Sprinkle over pizza.

Pizza:
Heat oven, and pizza stone if you’re using one, to 400 degrees.
Place crust on the stone (or a pan) and top with sauce and eggplant.
Sprinkle with diced fresh mozzarella.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly.

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One Response to “Melanzane Pizza with Roasted Garlic Sauce”

  1. Andrea Says:

    Stefano used to make his own crust – but now he swears by the pre-made one from Trader Joe’s…if you’ve ever tried that?

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