I dedicate today’s blog post to one of my oldest friends, Deni.  I’ve known her since we were in university then we worked just down the hall from each other in our first “real” jobs out of college.  She nursed me through a broken heart.  She cheered me on when I moved to Washington, DC.

She has amazing taste in music and films (in fact, her love of imported movies makes my taste look rather mundane).  And, outside of Darcy Bussell, there is probably no one else who knows more about dance.  She’s always worked in the issues she believes in, putting all her energies towards improving the lives of women around the world.  She’s truly an inspiration.

In fact, the only negative thing I can say about her is that she doesn’t like tomatoes.  I know!  Right?  But, alas, no one is perfect and we tolerate other’s foibles as best we can.  But, no tomatoes … (sigh) … how do these kinds of things happen???  So, on occasion, I like to post vegetarian recipes that are tomato-free with her in mind, and this is one of my favorites.

Roasted Eggplant and Asparagus Pizza

This recipe will make 2 large pizzas with a medium crust or 3 medium pizzas with a thin crust

Pizza Crust

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat bread flour
  • 3 1/2 cups regular bread flour
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary chopped as small as possible
  • 1 2/3 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil plus more to line bowl
Topping
  • 4 medium sized eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • garlic-infused olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 8 stalks of thick asparagus, shaved with a Y-shaped vegetable peeler
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 block feta cheese, crumbled
  • drizzle good quality olive oil

In the bowl of a standing mixer fixed with a dough hook, put all the dry ingredients in and stir on low to combine, then slowly pour in the water and olive oil.  Continue to use the mixer to knead the dough for at least another 10 minutes.  The dough should be sticky, but not too wet.  If it feels wet, add a teaspoon of breadflour and knead in thoroughly.  When it’s done kneading, lift it out of the bowl, then drizzle with a good glug of oil, then rub around before putting the dough back in and turning to coat.  Let rise for two hours.

While the dough is rising, prepare your toppings.  Preheat the oven to 400 and line a rimmed baking tray with aluminum foil.  Drizzle the foil with a good few glugs of garlic oil, then sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground black pepper onto the oil.  Place the halved eggplant onto the oil, cut-side down and bake for about 45 minutes – the eggplant will absorb the oil and seasonings and be all squidgy when finished.  Let it cool until you can handle it, then gently scrape out of the charred skin into a blender and puree until smooth.  Add a little extra oil and taste for seasoning.

If you have a pizza stone, throw it in the oven and raise the temperature of the oven as high as it will go.  Once the dough is finished rising, divide it into however many pizzas you’re making and spread out onto pizza pans fairly thinly, then prebake for about 5-7 minutes so that you can have the crispiest crust possible.  Remove from the oven, then spread with the eggplant puree and scatter with the asparagus ribbons, pepper, onion and feta, then drizzle with olive oil and place back in the oven to cook for about 10 minutes until cooked.

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