Eggplant Crust “Pizza”

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Wednesday night was the night before a long two day drive to Quebec, so I knew I wanted to make something for dinner that was quick, easy, and healthy –road trips often come with fast food, gas station snacking, and loads of caffeine – but the one person I cook for was craving pizza…

Pizza, in my opinion, is one of the staple foods of our generation. There has to be some ridiculous statistic regarding the amount of pizza consumed by the average college student. There was a ten-year period of my life where I ordered a pizza from Pizza Shuttle (my hometown’s prevailing pizza joint growing up) at least once a week. I live with a guy who would love to order a pizza once a week, but we live in one of those neighborhoods where delivery options are annoyingly nonexistent. So when pizza was requested for dinner, I knew I had to come up with a satisfying lighter version since it’s currently bathing suit season – yes, I’m that girl.

I love to make any dish as healthy and low-calorie as possible, but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to sacrifice the taste and experience of a food like pizza. A couple of pizza dinners ago, I massively failed at putting together a cauliflower pizza crust. And when I say fail, I mean it – we took one bite each and made that disgusted-with-what-is-in-my-mouth face; similar to the face kids make when tricked into trying brussel sprouts. Deep down, I wasn’t ready to give up on my foodie dream of finding a tasty low calorie pizza crust alternative.

I knew I had an eggplant in the fridge begging to be consumed and not left to rot for the next ten days. Thus, I thought I would take eggplant parmesan and apply the idea to pizza. My intent was obviously to mimic the taste of pizza as much as possible. Therefore, I breaded the slices of eggplant in panko breadcrumbs to give them the feel of real crust. I had a bunch of pizza topping ingredients at home, so I put together a variety of our favorite kinds of pizza.

The eggplant pizzas were amazing. They even exceeded the expectations of pizza’s biggest fan: my boyfriend (and that’s saying a lot!). The eggplant enhanced the nutritional value by incorporating a vegetable in place of the typical, high calorie dough crust. There was definitely an eggplant taste to the overall experience, but I found it didn’t subtract from the overall pizza experience. If anything, I was left wanting more. Did it taste exactly like pizza? No, but it was a delicious and practical lighter option that will definitely be a regular recipe in my kitchen.

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Eggplant Pizza “Crust”

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Ingredients:

-1 medium Eggplant

-1/2 cup panko Breadcrumbs (you made need more depending on the size of the eggplant)

-1 tsp salt and pepper

-4 egg whites + 2 eggs with yolk

Directions:

-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

-With olive oil, grease a large baking sheet.

-Combine the panko breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper in a wide bowl or large, deep plate. Mix around with your hands or a spoon.

-Whisk together the two eggs and four egg whites. Pour slowly into another wide bowl or large, deep plate.

-Slice the eggplant into even pieces (salt and pepper them, if desired). Depending on the size of the eggplant, you may end up with quite a bit of slices. If you don’t think you are going to use the entire eggplant, I suggest using half so you can save the rest.

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-One at a time, dip the slices of eggplant into the egg mixture. Proceed to dip each slice into the breading mixture until the eggplant is entirely covered. Place the slices on the greased baking sheet and cook for approximately 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs appear golden. Again, depending on the size of the slices, oven times may vary.

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-Let cool for a couple of minutes before adding the toppings.

Eggplant Pizzas (A Variety)

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*Note: The following ingredients are the allotted amount for one four inch wide eggplant crust

Pepperoni:

-2 to 3 tbsp of shredded Italian Blend Cheese

-1.5 to 2 tbsp of tomato sauce (be careful not to add too sauce or else you will end up with mushy slices)

-About a dozen mini-pepperonis per crust

-A dash of salt and pepper, if desired

-Bake at 400 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and brown

Ricotta and Pesto Pizza:

-1 to 2 tbsp of low-fat ricotta cheese

-2 tbsp of pesto

-About five slices of roma tomatoes

-Dash of dry basil

-Salt and pepper to taste

-Bake at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes

Pesto Caprese Pizza:

-About 5 slices of roma tomatoes

-2 medium slices of fresh mozzarella

-2 tbsp of pesto

-Salt and pepper to taste

-Bake at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and brown.

Red Sauce and Pesto Pizza:

-1.5 to 2 tbsp of tomato sauce

-2 tbsp of pesto

-2 slices of fresh mozzarella, or two tbsp of shredded Italian blend cheese

-Bake at 400 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and brown.

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