Wow, we seem to have the most beautiful eggplants in our markets this fall!
To select an eggplant, I look for one that is lighter, rather than heavier, for its size. I like a shiny, dark purple coat with as few blemishes as possible. To check for freshness, I look for a greenish stem near the top of the eggplant.
In the late summer and early fall, I put eggplant on the grill. Just spraying slices of the eggplant on both sides with a little bit of Pam Cooking Spray, keeps the eggplant from sticking to my grill. We eat the eggplant right from the grill, but the skin. I never peel my eggplant as love the deep purple color of the skin!
When I want to have a softer, edible purple skin, I prefer to gently broil the eggplant. I place slices cut to about 1/8" on a baking sheet and broil for a few minutes on each side. I only put a bit of cooking spray on the bottom of the sheet or broiler pan, to keep the slices from sticking. One must be careful as once the eggplant slices begin to turn a bit of brown, they can broil to the overdone stage almost instantly. Some say to only broil the eggplant on one side, but I prefer to broil the slices on both sides.
I make lots of homemade pizza as my husband loves it. However, since he is "sensitive" to cheese, I make cheese-less pizza's for him, or refrain from putting cheese on his side of the pizza.
A medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/8", round slices, filled up my homemade pizza very nicely. The slices were broiled as described above, then placed over the sauce on the pizza. The skin of the eggplant in this case was very soft and easy to chew after baking!
It is easy to see the eggplant slices in the areas of the pizza where there is no cheese. We love any kind of fresh sweet pepper and onions on our pizza too, as they complement the eggplant well. I always microwave the diced or sliced peppers and onions, just to the soft state, before placing on the pizza, as we don't like raw onion on our pizza and prefer the peppers soft too.
We like lots of toppings on our pizza, over our mostly whole wheat crust, the recipe for which is earlier in this blog. I doubled the recipe to make a 9" X 11" inch square pizza and the very large round pizza above.
I generally pre-bake the crust for 8-10 minutes on a high temperature, such as 4025-450 F. A secret to keep the crust from getting soggy, is to put cheese as the very first topping on pre-baked, homemade pizza dough, but because my husband is "sensitive" to cheese, I can no longer use that secret trick.
I have discovered that microwaving the vegetable toppings, such as onions and peppers, helps to get rid of some of the veggie juice that would otherwise make my pizza soggy!
I never bake in the summer, but it is October 9 2012, and am glad to turn on my oven in these cooler days of fall in Cleveland, Ohio!