Early fall is a great time for our CSA Shares, our winter harvest is coming in, we still have summer favorites like peppers and eggplants, and our crew is cruising through the fields harvesting as much as they can. This hearty pizza – big enough to fill a baking sheet with a thick crust is one last hurrah of eggplant and peppers before the frost comes in. You wouldn’t want to crank the oven up for pizza during the summer, but in fall that all changes.
This pizza is a riff on a classic Italian Puttanesca Pasta – a pasta to make when little else is available, or a “garbage” spaghetti. A sauce made from olives, tomatoes, capers, and anchovies (usually, although we left them out) is so flavorful and the perfect foil for cubed eggplant and peppers. Cook everything down to a thick stew like sauce before spreading over the pizza dough.
Feel free to adjust the ingredients based on what you have or don’t have hanging around. The pine nuts are a great, toasty finish, but you’d be fine without them. Leave out the crushed red pepper if you want a more mild dish. For the dough, I made an easy no-knead dough and gave it lots of extra rising time so I could roll it into a thick deep dish pizza. Your favorite dough recipe or even a storebought crust will work just as well. If you have any extra sauce, just save it to toss with spaghetti.
Eggplant Puttanesca Pizza
2 medium or 1 large eggplant, any variety, diced
1-2 ripe peppers, cored and diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/4 cup capers
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
salt to taste
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 cups grated, aged mozzarella cheese
For the dough:
3 cups flour
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Make the dough. Sprinkle yeast and honey into warm water. Set aside for 15 minutes. Place flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk together. When yeast is bubbly and expanded add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the yeast mixture. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquids. Use a wooden spoon to stir the ingredients into a shaggy dough. Place dough ball in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place (next to the stove, in a slightly warm oven, on top of the refrigerator) for one hour (or up to 3). Dough should be doubled in size.
Make the sauce. Heat the olive oil over mediume heat in a medium size stockpot or dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should be soft and turning translucent. Add the peppers and eggplant with the salt. Cook for a few minutes until the eggplant starts to soften. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, until the eggplant is very soft, but still holds it’s shape. The mixture should be thick, not soupy. Turn off the heat and let cool while you stretch the dough.
Preheat the oven to 450°F
Assemble the pizza. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or coat with a thin layer of olive oil plus a sprinkle of cornmeal. Sprinkle flour over a clean counter top. Transfer the dough from the bowl to the counter, need a few times then carefully roll into a rectangle. Transfer to the baking sheet, and use your hands to stretch the dough out. You should have a thick, large rectangle. Spread the eggplant sauce over the dough, then top with the cheese, and the pine nuts. I used a thick layer of the eggplant sauce, but use as much as you like and save any leftovers. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the cheese is browned and bubbly and the crust is brown at the edges. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing.
Recipe Notes. I went for a thick, doughy pizza with a thick layer of sauce. You can also divide the dough in half and make 2 thinner pizzas if that’s what you prefer with the amount of sauce that you prefer. Leftover sauce can be tossed with pasta.
Gluten Free– use your favorite GF pizza crust recipe or store-bought crust. Or try polenta as a base.