Eggplant Pizza with Fresh Pesto and Pine Nuts — Pizza aux aubergines, pesto frais et pignons de pin

We all have favorite pizza stories. For me these days, living in the United States and not getting to eating or making my own pizza is just impossible. But my love and attraction for pizza started many years before I came to live in the US, when I was still a *baby*. At 17, I went to Salo in Italy (Lago di Garda) to work as a cook assistant. I remember the hot Italian days spent peeling endless vegetables of all sorts (and wishing them to Hell as they were keeping us away from pleasurable times spent on the beach), chopping onions and parsley for the pastachuta (correct spelling?), setting up the tables for the 4 meals of the day, cleaning the dishes, washing the floors, AND I remember especially the time when our daily duties would end and we would run as fast as we could to get to the village around 10 or 11 pm, and sit at la pizzeria’s to enjoy our 5ème (cinquième), that is the 5th meal of the day.

Le cinquième

Let’s count: breakfast is 1, lunch is 2, 4 O’clock - le goûter -is 3, dinner is 4 and le 5eme is 5. Any person who has worked summers – in France at least-, as a camp counsellor would know this expression, le 5ème. You are referring to the 5ème when you talk about the meal you have after all the kids are in bed, when the adult life starts. And le 5ème in Italy was really la crème de la crème. Thinking about it, I wonder how we managed to swallow down all the food we ate, but then when you are 17, you are always hungry and you can eat without ever knowing when you have had enough. Just like a well with no bottom. Those 5èmes were made of daily intakes of pizzas of all sorts, and the flavour changed every day. Heaven for us at that time. We loved Italy and Italian pizzas.

The pizzas in the US are very different I would say, but have a charm attached to them. But again, don’t you agree that nothing beats a homemade pizza? You find thick crust in Chicago, thin crust in Boston, and many more I am sure. I personally always make my pizzas because not only do I think that pizza should not always have cheese, but I also think that tomatos are not necessary, and often I get disappointed when I have it out in a restaurant. Hence I never have pizza out. It is all the more ironic as pizza is one of the most commonly known take-out food that people seem to talk about. Which makes me think I am fussy about it. Not a snob! But fussy about pizza. As a matter of fact, you might totally disagree with me but one of my favorite pizzas would neither have cheese or tomatoes, as in the recipe that follows: homemade basil pesto, grilled eggplants, pine nuts and fresh mint. It is simply delicious. Am I starting a war here?

Bon appétit!

Eggplant Pizza with Fresh Pesto and Pine Nuts

You need:

Pesto

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (50 g)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (10 cl)
  • A nice bunch of fresh basil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 50 g parmesan freshly grated

Pizza

  • Pizza dough (500 g, 17.5 oz) (see below for my recipe/proportions) + extra flour to roll the dough
  • 2 large eggplants (about 500 g as well)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • A bunch of fresh mint leaves
  • Olive oil to brush the eggplant and the dough
  • Salt for the eggplants

Steps:

Making the pesto

  • Start by chopping your garlic clove.
  • Add the pine nuts and crush together.
  • Then add the basil leaves washed and dried, the olive oil and parmesan. Mix well and set aside.


Making the topping and the pizza

  • Take about 500 g eggplants (2 large ones).
  • Wash and slice them (about 0.5 cm or 1/4 inch thick).
  • Brush them with olive oil on both sides, sprinkle with salt and then cook them on a gril (or broil), (4 mns on each side, or more if needed, check regularly), and set them aside.
  • Preheat your oven at 420 F (210 C).
  • Roll your dough into the shape you like and prick it making small holes with a fork.
  • Place it on the heated pizza stone if using one, or on a baking sheet.
  • Brush with olive oil and precook it for 15 mns.
  • Take out and then spread the pesto on top.
  • Layer the eggplants on top.
  • Add slices of garlic between the egglant slices and top with pine nuts.
  • Place in the oven for 5 more mns.
  • Serve with mint leaves and extra pine nuts.

I would be curious to know what your favorite pizzas are.

My Pizza Dough

In the bread machine

My pizza dough is a combination of 3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, 1 1/3 cups water, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp SAF yeast, 1 1/2 tsp salt. After combining all ingredients, the dough rises in the machine for about 1 hour. I remove it and work it again for a few mns, then let is rise again covered under a damp towel for 30 mns or so, until it doubles in size. Love the crustiness of this dough.

By hand

1 package active dry yeast or fresh yeast, 1 tsp honey, 1 cup warm water, 3 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp olive oil (1 cup flour = 120 g flour, 1 cup water = 225 ml). Dissolve the yeast and honey in 1/4 cup warm water. With a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and the salt. Add the oil and the dissolved yeast, then add the 3/4 cup remaining water. Mix on low speed for 5 mns or so, until the dough detaches from the bowl (or use a food processor as well). Take the dough out and work for 2 to 3 extra mns. Then cover with a clean, damp towel, and let rise for 30 mns to 1 hour. You can divide your dough in 4 balls, and work them again for a few mns. Then shape your balls and place them covered again, and let rise for 15 to 20 mns. You can then wrap the ones you do not need and place them in the fridge (or freeze them), and use what you need for the size pizza you are making. (Wolfang Puck’s recipe)

I cook the pizza on a pizza stone heated in the oven before using. I sprinkle corn flour on the stone before putting the dough on it. The pizza stone is a plus for the crustiness of my dough.

Note: Reheating a Pizza Tip

Take a frying pan and add fresh or dried twigs of rosemary. Heat the pan, no oil, and place the slices of pizza in it. Cover and reduce the heat and warm up for about 5 to 7 mns. The spice is going to infuse the pizza crust and you will also get a nice crust that remains crusty. Bye bye soggy or dry reheated pizza, from spending too much time in the oven or the microwave.

Posted in Tarts, Vegetarian | 32 Comments

32 comments

  1. for me the cheese is what makes a pizza… therwise i’d just make a short cut pastry tart. and call me a purist but it has to be round and cut into a wedge or long rectangles. and definitely no cutlery – its finger food! i do love your topping combination though, especially the basil pesto. sounds delicious

  2. The toppings look so fresh, and I like how you’ve shaped the dough. I would never have thought of combining cloves and mint!

  3. Bravo Béa, tes photos sont SUPERBES!!
    Le mot pizza fait peur, cependant, ca me fait penser a pizza hut.
    Mais ta “pizza” est tres sophistiquée, en contraste. Magnifique

  4. Superbes photos qui mettent en appétit juste avant le souper même si mon post est du matin !
    Merci pour toutes ces bonnes recettes, photos et surtout cette énergie que tu nous communiques alors que le printemps à du mal d’arriver définitivement ici en Europe.
    Bye

  5. j’avais pas vu ta wishlist, j’ai Patate et le Gérard Mulot. Je les adore tous les deux.

  6. Deborah: sorry but pizza without cheese isn’t just quite a short cut pastry tart. Here in Rome we use to eat pizza bianca (no topping at all) or marinara (just with tomatoes, garlick and anchovies) and I can assure you can tell it’s pizza :-))
    Bea: j’aime bien tes photos et ton sens de la composition… une curiosité: c’est quoi ton appareil photo??
    Bises!
    S

  7. Un grand classique de la maison que cette pizza, déclinée en tatin aussi selon les envies. Mais jamais d’aussi belles photos… Oh my… they’re so… yummy-wow !

  8. wow, bea – i never know what tastiness i will find when i visit your site each morning – this one is incredible! i have been on a quest for a good pizza crust – i cannot wait to try yours.
    i love pizza with fresh tomatoes, red onions and red peppers, and perhaps a little parmesan…
    my ratatouille pizza was pretty good also(if i may say so myself – haha!)!

  9. Bea, looks gorgeous! I agree about pizza not always needing tomatoes and cheese. By the way, have you ever had pizza at Emma’s in Cambridge? I am fussy about pizza too, but their #4 pizza with cranberries, bacon, potatoes, and cilantro is really yummy. That’s the only one I like there though.

  10. I think like you, tomataes and cheese are not necessary …
    And yours pictures are always beautiful, and amazing…

  11. Deborah, well I am sure it is a question of taste and I knew that before. This combination is really nice and makes you forget you want cheese ;-)

    Genevieve, hold on, I mean garlic cloves, not clove itself! ;-)

    Céline, merci ahah, tu as eu peur! Mais non!!!

    Anaik, ah bien merci pour ton gentil mot! Il faut venir manger chez nous! ;-) Quand tu veux!

    Lemich, merci! Pas de printemps encore en Europe??

    Juliette, ah yes you would love this combination!

    ANne, ahah ah ben j’ai craqué, je les ai commandés ;-)

    Cenzina, merci bien. Je suis d’accord avec toi, les pizzas blanches etc. Pour ce qui est de mon appareil, c’est un Panasonic Lumix DCMZ20.

    Ooishigal, oui la pâte n’est pas mauvaise je dois dire! Sans me flatter ;-)

    Framboise, oui version tatin, ca doit être bien!

    Iamchanelle, Thanks again! I bet your ratatouille pizza must be good!

    June, thanks for stopping by! Glad you like it!

    ptinfrance, de la torture? mais non mais non!!

    Paz, thanks!

    Helen, oh that is great. I will check this place out as I do not know it. I like Cambridge One potato pizza as well. Have you had it?

    Fabienne, encore une fois merci et au fait, ca y est, le Mulot, je l’ai acheté! La tentation a été trop forte!

  12. Bea,

    I almost cried when I read this because it reminded me of all the beautiful pizza I’ve eaten on my trips to Italy!

    This is beautiful and I can’t wait to try it when we have fresh basil from our garden.

    And by the way … it’s pasta asciutta!

  13. That looks delicious! I will have to try your recipe for the dough – I am always scared to make pizza at home because I worry that the crust will never rival that cooked in a real pizza oven.

    I second the Emma’s recommendation! They make my favorite pizza in the Boston area – all the topping combos I have tried there have been fantastic, and their crust is just to my taste. It’s thin, but less cracker-like than Cambridge One (although they both make potato pizzas that are delish).

  14. J’adore les aubergines, à un moment je ne cuisinais que ça, ce qui fait que depuis un an ou deux je n’en fais presque plus, il fallait au moins ça pour compenser les excès du début… Mais ta pizza m’a convaincue de m’y remettre ! Moi aussi je préfère quand le “topping” est plus léger, sans sauce tomate. Encore une fois, comment résister avec de pareilles photos !

  15. My 5 kinds of basil should be ready to start being picked in about 4 days. This will be one of it’s first uses! I’ve been picking the mint for a month. Can’t wait. Thanks so much!

  16. Ivonne, thanks. I will know how to spell it now!!

    Erica thanks so much, I will definitely check this place!

    Liza, tu es la mère aubergine alors??

    Tanna, you are so lucky! I wish mine was that advanced! Too cold still!

    Ooishigal, super, je suis très contente! Tu as fait ta pizza à quoi?

  17. Desperately searching for the recipe for pastachouta (pastacciouta ?) Could you help? Thanks Jean

  18. absolutely i agree about pizza. i never like pizza until i live in France. my first (pleasant) surprise was pizza with tuna!

  19. Excellente pizza qui m’aura permis d’apprendre à dire gousse d’ail et pâte (à pizza) en anglais !

  20. Good source for pine nuts or pignoli nuts there are American organic grown they are superb in-shell raw or shelled raw there web sight is http://www.wholesalepinenuts.com a simple comment to let you know you don’t have to buy importer pine nuts any more.
    They have a bitter-free guarantee. Mike

  21. Bea, is it okay to use the all purpose baking flour for this recipe (365 brand)? Thanks!

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