Using a small Chinese eggplant for one pizza made sense this time. I peeled the eggplant (leaving some peel) and sliced the eggplant on a bias, just to make things pretty. I sprinkled both sides with coarse kosher salt, and left the eggplant to drain on paper towels for about 15 minutes to exude the moisture. Then I rinsed the and patted the eggplant dry (you can skip paper towels completely, if you want to be green -- dry dish towels are equally effective).
Then I tossed the eggplant slices with LOTS of olive oil, salt and pepper.
I roasted the slices for about 5 or 6 minutes at 400 degrees, turning them half-way through to get even color on both sides. (Why are roasted vegetables so beautiful?!)
When I use a whole eggplant, rather than ending up with giant slices (or even half slices), I cube the eggplant into ¾" pieces and treat the process the same way I described above, with a little more oil than before. (Using a ½" dice means the eggplant shrinks in the oven, and you end up with small, dryer harder cubes. I use a ¾" dice to combat that.) It means more visits into the oven: you'll need a metal spatula to keep the eggplant from sticking to the pan.
Be sure to keep the cubes in a single layer -- if there's any crowding in the pan, things will get steamy. No pun intended.
The pie I just made last week included roasted eggplant with balsamic braised onions, thinly sliced sweet potatoes, extra sharp cheddar, a few blobs of goat cheese, and crispy sweet potato strips on top of arugula.
The pies in which I like to highlight eggplant include:
- Roasted eggplant with tomato, garlic, and either parm or mozzarella - plain and simple
- Roasted eggplant with braised balsamic onions, fresh tomato, parm, and fresh oregano
- Roasted eggplant caponata with prosciutto, pecorino, a little goat cheese, a little arugula on top
- Roasted eggplant with tasso, tomato, yukon gold potato, and fontina