Eggplant Pizza Rounds

These Eggplant Pizza Rounds are absolutely the bomb! I know that cauliflower crusted pizza is hip, but quite frankly, these eggplant pizzas are equally delicious, healthy and far easier and quicker to make! Plus, using eggplant rather than traditional pizza dough for the crust is a healthy way to get your veggies and pizza in!

Tips: To combat any bitterness, slice up the eggplant and salt for about ½ hour. Only large eggplants need to be salted before cooking though, (the process draws out moisture and counters bitterness). Otherwise, you can skip this step.

Also, when buying, avoid eggplants that are too hard or too soft: You're looking for one that's juuust right. When in doubt, err on the side of overly firm as some varieties don't have much give when squeezed, even when ripe. As with zucchini, the larger the specimen, the more bitter it will be.

Finally, eggplants should not be stored in the fridge; their texture will be compromised by the chill. Instead, keep them in a cool, dry spot in your kitchen, away from direct sunlight, but with plenty of air circulation. Their flesh will oxidize when sliced, so don’t cut until ready to use.

Ingredients

• 1 eggplant – cut into 1/3 inch thick rounds

• 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

• 2 cups of organic tomato sauce

• 1 medium garlic clove

• 1/3 cup of grated cheese of your choice

• To taste – sea salt, ground black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano

Options: Add extra sauce once you have dished out your eggplant pizza rounds. Also consider adding toppings you enjoy including sliced olives, sausage, peppers, pepperoni, onions, basil and more.

Instructions

•Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with foil and grease with olive oil.

•In a separate small pot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 medium size clove of garlic. Brown the garlic slowly so the oil does not start to smoke. When you see the oil start to sizzle around and under the cloves, remove the pot from the heat and shake so the cloves move around in the pot. Even off the heat, the garlic will continue to toast. Remove the garlic when golden. Add 2 cups of fresh organic tomato sauce, (I use Bionaturae Organic Strained Tomatoes), with a pinch of red pepper, oregano sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste. Let this come to a low to medium boil and stir every few minutes. If the tomato sauce begins to boil too hard, reduce heat. Cook this for approximately 30 minutes.

•Wash, cut off the ends and skin the eggplant. (If you’d prefer the skin on, then simply cut of the ends of the eggplant.) If the eggplant is small, there is no need to “sweat” it. If your eggplant is larger and thick, approximately 30 minutes before baking, slice it into 1/3 inch rounds, and salt on either side generously. You may lay the eggplant rounds on paper towels to do this. After ½ hour, wipe off the “sweat” with a dry, clean paper towel.

•When your eggplant rounds are ready, place them onto your greased cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes. You may opt to turn the eggplant slices over mid-way but this is not mandatory.

•Remove the eggplant from the oven and add shredded cheese, (I use raw organic cow’s milk parmigiana cheese from my local farmer’s market). On top of the cheese, spoon out a nice dollop of tomato sauce though not too much as you don’t want the eggplant to become mushy.

•Return to the oven for an additional 5-7 minutes until the cheese has thoroughly melted. Once melted, remove from the oven and let the pizzas sit for approximately 2-3 minutes before serving.

Dish out and enjoy!

Primetime eggplant season is right around the corner and I’m getting psyched to enjoy these babies the whole summer long. By the way, this recipe can be used for both an appetizer as well as a main course. For a main dish, add a fresh garden salad to your plate. I hope you enjoy! Please write and let me know.

Buon appetito my friends!