This recipe started off as a “I’m cold, I’m tired, I’m sick to death of staring blankly at textbooks and I’m craving pizza something chronic but I can’t be bothered with anything fancy” kind of lunch, and turned out to be my new favourite go-to meal. It was inspired in part by my new-found obsession with eggplant, and also by my yearning for comfort food: I needed something warm, and hearty and full of taste. It was the first day of Winter and also my first proper day of attempted exam study***, and in true Melbourne Winter tradition, it was so bitterly cold that I swear the raindrops could have frozen into icicles before they hit the pavement.
I’m actually eating this Roasted Capsicum and Eggplant Pizza again as I write this, the loud sounds of my munching only just obscuring Mum’s audible annihilation of her own share across the table. Unfortunately, I can hear her slight moans of satisfaction because I’m not moaning myself. I don’t even know if she knows she’s doing it. Now I’m giggling and she’s asking why (“Oh, nothing, just something on the internet!”) Don’t get me wrong, I do moan and groan in culinary delight, but just not when I’m eating and typing simultaneously – 2 tasks are hard enough to juggle, let alone 3. I also don’t moan while tasting my own food in front of others because that would just be weird and, well, wanky.
***I should clarify that by “my first proper day of attempted exam study”, I really mean “the first day that I planned to spend all my time revising, but instead the ratio of study hours versus hours of laying on my cow hide rug in front of the open fire reading cook books and planning my upcoming Europe trip was 1:5, at best”. HAVE I MENTIONED THAT I’M JETTING OFF TO EUROPE FOR 3 MONTHS IN 2 WEEKS’ TIME?! How can a girl possibly concentrate on exams when her head is in the clouds (or cloudless skies, more like it) hanging over Santorini sunsets, Croatian waters, Parisian markets and picnics, Ibizan boat parties, Spanish tomato fights, Berlin beer gardens and Turkish tree houses?
But back to important pizza stuff…
Roasted Capsicum + Eggplant Pizza
- 1 small wheat-free wrap of choice for pizza base (I’m loving the spelt wraps from Go Vita health stores at the moment. They’re quite big as a base for one serving, so I just cut it down to the size of a small plate. A note on wraps: if you’re at the supermarket, don’t be fooled by ‘gluten free’, ‘wholegrain’ or even ‘organic’ wrap packet labels, because they might not be as healthy as they claim to be. The majority of wrap varieties I’ve come across, particularly at supermarkets, are FULL of crap. As always, keep ingredients lists to a minimum and avoid unnecessary additives such as preservatives, sugar or anything defined by a number)
- 1tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 heaped tsp tomato paste
- 1 handful baby spinach leaves
- 1/3 eggplant, cut into thin (approx. 3mm) discs
- 1 small or 1/2 large red capsicum, sliced into strips
- small handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 tbs raw pine nuts (these will toast while the pizza cooks)
- 2 tbs grated cheese (this is obviously optional, but I included it because I try to be as transparent when it comes to my diet as possible. I don’t eat processed cheese very often, but is pizza really pizza without cheese of some description? I don’t think so. It also just so happened that my mum had bought ‘Pizza Plus’ cheese for my brother the day before, and I simply couldn’t resist the ultimate melt combo: mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan.
- 15g danish feta, to serve
- Preheat oven to 250’C and line a baking tray with aluminium foil.
- Slice eggplant and place in a colander. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt over the slices and toss with your hands to coat evenly. Sit for 15 minutes. The salt will draw water out of the eggplant (water molecules follow sodium), so you’re not left with rubbery, soggy eggplant on your pizza. After 15 minutes, rinse eggplant thoroughly and dry well with paper towelling.
- Arrange capsicum strips on the lined tray and brush with a little olive oil. Roast in oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the capsicum begins to char around the edges. When the capsicum is ready, remove from oven, transfer capsicum to a plate and put tray back in the oven while you prepare the rest of your pizza – a piping hot tray is the secret to getting a crispy pizza base!
- Spread the wrap with tomato paste and top with baby spinach. Arrange eggplant slices on top of the spinach and brush with a little olive oil. Follow with the capsicum, chopped parsley, pine nuts, and cheese (if using). Season with a little sprinkle of Himalayan sea salt. Place pizza on preheated tray (no foil or baking paper underneath) and bake in oven for around 15 minutes, or until the edges of the base have started to brown and the eggplant is visibly cooked. Remove from oven.
- To serve, top the pizza with extra parsley and crumbled feta. Cut into slices, forget about the knife and fork and enjoy each bite with your hands – true pizza style.