Over this past weekend, my husband and I were up in the Santa Ynez Valley working on our vacation house that we just recently purchased. We stopped our projects long enough to have a nice lunch outdoors at Nella Kitchen & Bar. Nella has just recently opened in the Fess Parker Inn in Los Olivos. One of the dishes we shared was a flatbread with carbonara toppings of pancetta and onions in a creamy egg-based sauce. It was both creative and delicious, and the crust was light and airy with super crunchy edges, most amazing. The pictures of what we ate are on my Instagram feed @genabellrecipes.
Eggplant Parmesan, one of the most classic Italian dishes, is created by coating eggplant in flour, an egg wash, and then breadcrumbs, before being fried to perfection. The eggplant is then, layered with mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and marinara and baked in a casserole dish in the oven. The flavors are so deliciously comforting, that I wanted to capture a similar experience, but on a pizza crust.
I started by baking the eggplant in the oven, so it was less greasy than traditional eggplant parm recipes. Afterwards, the eggplant became soft with crunchy edges, making it a nice vegetable for topping a pizza. I also sprinkled panko breadcrumbs on top of the eggplant for additional layer of crunchy texture, which just adds to wonderful mouthfeel and texture in every bite.
Flatbread or pizza dough can be bought from any grocer in the frozen section, purchased from your local pizzeria, or made from scratch. If frozen, let the dough rise in a bowl covered in plastic wrap for a few hours, before stretching. The rest of the recipe is pretty simple and worth every bite.
1 pound ball of pizza dough, homemade, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup marinara sauce
6 slices fresh eggplant, about 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
4 ounces fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, fresh
(Makes 1 Flatbread)
1. Let dough rise in a oiled bowl covered in plastic wrap, if frozen, about 2 hours. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place sliced eggplant on a sheet pan and drizzle with oil olive and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes, or until eggplant is softened and edges are golden brown. Increase temperature in oven to 450 degrees.
2. Remove dough from bowl and on a lightly floured surface, roll it out to 1/2 inch thick. If you have a pizza stone, place dough on a peel dusted with flour, or cutting board. If baking on an oiled sheet pan, place dough in the center. Spoon marinara over top of flatbread, leaving a 1-inch border.
3. Place eggplant on top of marinara and sprinkle each piece with Panko breadcrumbs. This gives eggplant texture without frying. Drizzle eggplant with a little more olive oil.
4. Pinch pieces of fresh mozzarella off ball and scatter around top of flatbread. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper. Slide flatbread on pizza stone, or place on sheet pan in oven to bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 3 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!