Friday, February 7, 2014

Eggplant Parmesan Pizza with Roasted Eggplant Chips, Ricotta, Sun Dried Red Peppers, Toasted Tomato Sauce, Fresh Basil, + Crispy Garlic Bread Crust

Eggplant Parmesan Pizza with Roasted Eggplant Chips, Ricotta, Sun Dried Red Peppers, Toasted
 Tomato Sauce, Fresh Basil, + Crispy Garlic Bread Crust
Everybody loves raymond pizza. Amirite? Yep. We make it weekly, most of y'all order it weekly... it's an oldie, but goodie. I'm kinda sorta really over delivery pizza. I think I had my fill of it over the years of middle school slumber parties and drunk binge eating in college. Now I want it fancy. And what's more Italian than pizza? Well, I always think of either chicken parmesan or eggplant parmesan. Which means, I just had to concoct a Eggplant Parmesan-inspired Pizza. Let's start with the sauce... it sorta reminds me of a sun dried tomato paste sauce. It's toasty, herby, and really enhances the tomato to a'whole'nother level. This condiment really would be great on pasta, chicken, or even on a piece of toasted bread. So, it's quite versatile. Now onto the toppings. I roasted some thinly cut eggplant to make some "chips". That's easy-peasy, so don't skip this step and just put raw eggplant on the pizza, we didn't like it that way at all. Oh buddy, it's time for the best part... the sweet + tangy sun dried red peppers. I found these little red jewels at our grocery store and I was immediately drawn to them. I don't know how they make them or what they flavor them with, but they are straight-up gangsta. And that's impressive since this girl right here is not a fan of roasted red peppers. At all. But these Delallo Peppers, I could eat straight out of the jar. I think I purchased a whole basket of them because we love them that much. I made a killer sun dried red pepper dressing and I plan on making a hummus this weekend featuring them as well. They make everything so much better. Okay, now enough of my love affair with a vegetable. The rest of the pizza is topped with mozzarella, parmesan, ricotta cheese, and fresh basil. However, there was just one more component I needed to address. I needed a way to mimic the crispy breadcrumb coating of eggplant parmesan. Eventually, we landed on the idea of making a crispy garlic bread pizza crust. The outer rim of your pizza dough is brushed with a butter-garlic-herb mixture that is chock full of herbed Panko breadcrumbs. When you bake it in the oven, the breadcrumbs toast & crisp up and give you the most amazing crispy exterior. It was the perfect way to finish this over-the-top pizza, mark my words. So ditch the delivery crap and give this a go, I really think everyone who loves this classic Italian dish will love the pizza even more!! Enjoy :)
Y'all have to try these Delallo Sun Dried Peppers!!
Eggplant Parmesan-inspired Pizza :)
Don't forget the fresh basil, it's super important.
sliced up + already eaten. 

For the Crispy Garlic Bread Crust:
5T Unsalted Butter, Melted
2 Garlic Cloves + Sea Salt (mashed into a garlic paste)
2T Parmesan Cheese
1t Dried Basil + Dried Oregano
3T Toasted Panko Breadcrumbs (plain or Italian flavors will work)

For the Toasted Tomato Sauce:
1/3C Olive Oil
1 Clove of Garlic, Minced
½t Dried Oregano, Basil, Thyme, & Rosemary
A Generous Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
½t Fresh Cracked Pepper & Sea Salt
3oz Tomato Paste
½t Honey

For the Eggplant Chips:
1 Small Eggplant, Thinly Sliced into Rounds
Olive Oil, For Drizzling
Salt, Pepper, & Dried Oregano, For Sprinkling

For the Eggplant Parmesan Pizza:
Homemade Extra-Crusty Pizza Dough
Prepared Crispy Garlic Bread Crust Butter
Prepared Toasted Tomato Sauce
8oz Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Cut into Thin Slices
Baked Eggplant Chips
4oz Ricotta Cheese (for dollops)
Sweet + Tangy Sun Dried Red Peppers (I love the Delallo brand)
Fresh Basil, Chiffonade
Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:
1. For the Crispy Garlic Bread Pizza Crust: Using a roll pin or your hands, form the dough into your desired shape (sometimes I use baking sheets and do rectangles or free form pizzas). Melt 5 tablespoons of butter and mix it with the minced garlic, dried herbs, and 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. In a small saut√© pan, toast the panko breadcrumbs over medium heat until they smell nutty and they are lightly golden brown in color. Set them aside once you are done toasting them. Using a spoon or pastry brush, douse the outside edges with the herbed garlic butter mixture. You can spread the butter all over; just make sure to focus on the edges. Although make sure to save about one half of the butter, to spread on the pizza once it comes out of the oven. Continue to make your pizza with your desired toppings.
2. For the Toasted Tomato Sauce: Add the olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, crushed red pepper, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper to a small skillet. Stir and heat the mixture over low heat for about 3-5 minutes. It’s okay if it sizzles slightly, but you don’t want it to get hot enough that the herbs burn. Add the tomato paste and honey. Allow it to heat through as you stir. It will not form a smooth sauce. Continue to stir and heat over low for about 5 minutes or until you notice the tomato paste has darkened slightly. Either use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.
3. For the Eggplant Chips:Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silpat. Thinly slice the eggplant into rounds or chips. Spread them out onto the baking sheet and drizzle them with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried oregano. Bake them for 25-30 minutes or until they are golden brown and slightly crisp.
4. Prepping the Dough:During the last hour of the dough’s resting, preheat the oven to its hottest setting, around 500-550 degrees, and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Now it’s time to add on the toppings.
5. Assembling the Pizza:Spread the dough with some of the herbed-garlic butter and toasted tomato sauce, and then scatter the mozzarella cheese over the dough in an even layer, and drop on dollops of ricotta cheese. Then top it the eggplant chips, sun dried peppers, and freshly grated Parmesan Cheese. Place the pizza into the hot oven and bake for roughly 10-12 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the crust has begun to brown. Bump the oven heat up to broil.
6. Serving the Pizza:Remove from the oven and brush the pizza with garlic-parmesan butter, using it all up. Sprinkle a bit of Parmesan over top if desired. Generously top it with some fresh basil, and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cut into slices and enjoy it while it is still hot!

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