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Eggplant Parm Pizza

As mentioned in this post, The Upper Crust is one of our favorite Boston pizzerias (and they now provide nutritional information for their pizzas!).  There is, unfortunately, one caveat that keeps this Beantown pizza joint from earning the #1 spot on our list: those charming bikes with the boxes on the back that they insist upon using for delivery do NOT keep the pizzas hot. If John and I are craving a pie from The Upper Crust, we will make a point of walking to one of the many locations throughout the city.

A while back we ordered an eggplant pizza for delivery and – as you can guess – by the time it arrived at our doorstep, the pie was a bit soggy and not even close to being warm. Our hopes for a crispy, piping hot pizza topped with tender eggplant were dashed.

Though I don’t know why it took me so long to re-create that pizza, the alluring potential for an eggplant parmesan-inspired pizza stuck with me. I finally got around to making a homemade version and thought I’d share it with you. In advanced preparation – hey, I’m good like that – I breaded and baked a bunch of eggplant slices for “eggplant parm sandwiches” (layered with marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese slices on whole wheat burger buns) knowing there would be plenty leftover for the pizza later in the week. As anticipated, the leftover eggplant help up just fine in the fridge for a few days, though this pizza might be even better if made with freshly prepared eggplant slices.

As far as presentation goes, I think the pizza would be more photogenic had I left the eggplant slices in rounds, and layered them with the mozzarella. Looks aside, this Eggplant Parm Pizza was absolutely delicious – with all of the flavors of the classic Italian vegetarian dish plus a crisp crust. This has definitely joined the ranks of my favorite homemade pizzas!

Eggplant Parm Pizza

Ingredients:

  • breaded and baked eggplant slices*, cut into strips
  • homemade or store-bought dough for 1 pizza
  • marinara sauce of choice
  • fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into slices or strips
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring the pizza dough to room temperature by placing on the counter, covered, for at least 1-2 hours prior to rolling out.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  3. Lightly flour a large clean work surface, and roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness using a rolling pin (this usually takes a few minutes). Carefully transfer the rolled-out dough to a non-rimmed baking sheet. Pierce the dough lightly with a fork 7-8 times and place in the oven. Pre-bake the dough for 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, flip the pizza crust over, and spoon on the marinara sauce. Top with the eggplant, mozzarella, and parmesan.
  5. Bake assembled pizza on the baking sheet for 8 minutes. Carefully remove the baking sheet from under the pizza, and cook the pizza directly on the oven rack for 1-2 minutes, or until the bottom of the pizza crust is golden brown and crisp.
  6. Remove the pizza with a pizza peel or baking sheet. Allow the cooked pizza to cool for a couple of minutes before slicing and serving.

*For breaded and baked eggplant slices:

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized eggplant, washed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
  • splash of milk
  • ~ 2 cups Italian style breadcrumbs
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lay eggplant slices on a wire rack-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle salt liberally over both sides of eggplant slices. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour, until brown-colored liquid dots the surface of the eggplant (this is the bitter moisture being drawn out of the eggplant by the salt – don’t skip this step!). Gently rinse eggplant slices and pat dry with paper towel or a clean kitchen towel. Rinse and dry the wire rack and baking sheet
  3. Beat eggs and milk in a wide shallow dish. Pour breadcrumbs into another wide shallow dish.
  4. Dip eggplant slices into the beaten egg and then dredge in the breadcrumbs, shaking off excess. Place breaded eggplant onto the clean wire rack-lined baking sheet.
  5. Drizzle tops of eggplant slices lightly with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully flip eggplant slices over, drizzle the second side with olive oil, and bake an additional 15 minutes. Eggplant slices should be golden-brown and tender.

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