Executive Vice President, the James Beard Foundation; Author, Kitchen Sense (Clarkson Potter, 2006)
"When I can find them, I use a variety of eggplants of different sizes and colors to make an attractive pattern and to give a more complex eggplant flavor."
- 1/2 batch Quick Pizza Dough
- 1/2 small eggplant (6 ounces), sliced paper-thin lengthwise
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh herbs, such as rosemary, oregano, marjoram, or basil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Place a rack in the top portion of the oven, as high as it will go, and preheat the oven to 500ºF.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Let the dough sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes to take the chill off. Flatten the dough into a square or rectangle and place it on a well-oiled half-sheet pan or cookie sheet. Using your fingertips, push, pull, and stretch the dough into as close to a rectangle shape as you can get it. If the dough becomes too elastic and retracts as soon as you push or stretch it, let it sit undisturbed for 20 minutes to relax the gluten, and then try to stretch it again. Sometimes for leverage I tack one corner of the dough over the edge of the sheet pan and then pull the rest of the dough from there.
Lay out the eggplant slices on a plate and sprinkle both sides with 3 teaspoons of salt. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until the salt draws out water from the eggplant. Rinse the slices under cold water and pat dry.
Arrange the eggplant in an attractive pattern on the pizza crust. Spoon or brush half of the oil evenly over the eggplant and on the edge of the dough. Sprinkle the garlic and herbs evenly over the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the eggplant and the crust are nicely browned. Remove from the oven and brush with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with additional salt and black pepper to taste.