Heather from Heather's Dish is back with an amazing summer/fall transition meal! Enjoy, friends!
Growing up I never understood the excitement of Friday. Sure, school was out for the weekend and it meant more quality time with family and friends, but I never understood the true sense of freedom from the work week until, well, I started working.
Now I'm a work-at-home mom who is married to the hardest working man in the world. Our weekdays are great, but there's just an air of freedom - a weight being lifted from our shoulders - once Friday hits. Life is more casual, the sun shines a little brighter, and smiles come a lot quicker at the end of the week. It's not to say there aren't weekends where work happens; it's very much part of our life, and an honor to do what we do.
But weekends - suffice to say they're glorious!
The one meal that always bookmarks Friday as the beginning of freedom from ordinary is pizza. I remember back in the day we would find a great happy hour and indulge in a harmony of small plates with a glass of wine and good friends. Those are sweet memories, but the new rhythm of our life includes children and their own introduction to weekend glory. Friday nights are for pizza, and while we certainly eat our fair share of pepperoni or sausage (or both!) it's always fun to mix it up.
This pizza is delicious and filling, robust with roasted garlic and earthy eggplant with a touch of sweetness from fresh figs. I like to add a heavy-handed sprinkle of crushed red pepper because I like the spice, but you certainly don't have to. A great addition would be some fresh basil and a shower of Parmesan cheese!
Finally, fresh dough is SO important here. I do make my own (that's a lesson for another time) but have also been known to buy some from Whole Foods (they have a great whole-grain option) or a local pizza joint. Just make sure it's about 1 pound of dough, enough to make two large pizzas. You'll want the leftovers...promise!
ROASTED EGGPLANT + FRESH FIG PIZZA
- 1 pound fresh pizza dough, divided in two
- 6 cups fresh eggplant, chopped (I used local baby eggplant)
- 1 bulb garlic, divided into cloves but with the peels intact
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2-3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (depending on your preferred cheesiness)
- 6-8 fresh figs, quartered
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Toss the eggplant and garlic cloves with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Place the eggplant and garlic on a baking sheet in an even layer.
- Roast at 400 for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- Remove the garlic cloves (carefully - they're hot!) to a cold plate to cool quicker.
- Place a baking sheet or pizza stone into the hot oven and heat to 450.
- On a lightly floured surface roll (or hand stretch) one ball of dough into the shape and size of the pizza stone/baking sheet.
- Once the oven is at 450, remove the baking sheet and gently (carefully!) place the pizza dough on it.
- Return to the oven for 5-6 minutes.
- While the dough is par-baking, squeeze the garlic out of the peeled and mash with a fork.
- Remove the pizza dough from the oven, spread half of the mashed garlic on top, sprinkle evenly with mozzarella and then top with eggplant.
- Return to the oven for another 4-6 minutes DIRECTLY ON THE RACK until the dough is golden and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Sprinkle with red pepper flakes (if desired) and the quartered figs.
- Repeat with the second ball of dough.