Thursday, September 18, 2008
As most people know, pizza originated in Italy but it has reached global popularity via the United States where it is one of the most common foods. Pizza was invented in Naples and the local style, Neapolitan, is still among the most well-known. It is usually made with San Marzano tomatoes, basil and buffalo mozzarella on a very thin wheat crust that is flash baked for 90 seconds. Other regions of Italy use additional toppings including sausage, ham, mushrooms, artichokes, olives, and other cheeses.
Americans have invented a bewildering number of local, ethnic and personalized variations that would perplex many Italians. Most famous among these are New York-style that has a thin, soft crust, and Chicago deep-dish that has a thick (sometimes stuffed) crust. Others include Greek pizza (containing feta, Kalamata olives and olive oil), Taco pizza (using Taco sauce, shredded beef, lettuce, tomatoes, avocadoes, cheddar cheese) and Hawaiian (topped with ham/bacon, pineapple and mozzarella). California-style pizza, invented at the Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, incorporates non-traditional ingredients. One of their most popular versions is a Thai chicken pizza with peanut sauce.
I’ve seen a melanzane pizza on many restaurant menus, and its use of the Italian word for eggplant signals authenticity. However, it may be another American invention rather than a true Italian variation. Regardless, it was delicious and very easy.
Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as an appetizer
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
4 to 6 ounces eggplant, diced (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups)
1 pizza crust (prepared (e.g. Boboli or Trader Joe’s), store-bought pizza dough, or homemade)
8 ounces tomato pizza sauce (store-bought - I like the Scalfani brand) or homemade
4 ounces mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced or torn
1 large tomato
1. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté garlic in olive oil for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add eggplant and sauté for 5-7 minutes. Initially the eggplant will absorb all of the oil, and as it cooks it will release some moisture. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven.
3. Prepare pizza crust according to directions (if appropriate). Spread pizza sauce leaving a 1-inch crust. Sprinkle with mozzarella.
4. Top with basil, cooked eggplant and tomato slices. Sprinkle with oregano.
5. Bake according to directions, usually about 10-12 minutes at 400F (less if the crust is very thin).