I have never understood the advice I see in cookbooks and all over the food-internet about how to reduce the bitterness of eggplants. I have never found eggplant to be bitter. It seems like it has a sweet and fairly bland flavour best served by grilling or roasting to caramelize it and give a flavour boost. If any quality of eggplant were to be widely lamented, I would have thought that it would be eggplant's tendency to go a bit spongy and stodgy if cooked badly or in too-large pieces. But anti-bitterness advice abounds.
Am I just winning the eggplant lottery? Choosing sweet and mild eggplants every time while others wind up with sad, acrid specimens that they are forced to attempt to debitter?
Maybe I missing some vital eggplant-detecting tastebuds or genes?
The most troubling possibility though, is the thought that maybe eggplant isn't actually bitter at all. Perhaps all this talk of bitterness is a lie, an international conspiracy by a shadowy anti-eggplant lobby. Moving in the darkness, these eggplant slanderers work to discourage eggplant use and to generally smear its good name. They are probably also behind the popular and, quite frankly, vulgar use of the eggplant emoji. Another bald-faced attempt to sour public opinion of the eggplant.
Obviously eggplant's continued popularity is the only thing between us and the new world order, or full reptilian takeover or some similarly apocalyptic fate. Help fight the eggplant-illuminati by making this tasty eggplant pizza. It's olivey and garlicky and feta-briney and a little bit spicy. But it's not bitter.
Eggplant note: I did nothing in this recipe to combat bitterness because, as noted, eggplant is not bitter. However, if you find eggplant bitter, do whatever you normally do to prevent that. Just like the man wants you to.
adapted from smitten kitchen
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Put flour, salt and yeast in a bowl and add water and oil. Stir until everything mostly comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a couple minutes. Lightly oil a bowl and place dough in the bowl, turning to coat dough with oil on all sides. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
Deflate the dough gently and gather into a ball. Set aside while you prepare the toppings.
eggplant, feta and olive pizza:
- olive oil, a couple big glugs
- a big handful cherry tomatoes, sliced very thinly
- 4 cloves garlic
- chile flakes
- one medium eggplant
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup crumbled feta
Grate four cloves of garlic with a rasp. Combine with 3 tbs olive oil and a large pinch of chile flakes. Set aside.
Brush eggplant slices with olive oil. Grill slices on a grill pan or barbecue over medium heat until they have deep brown grill marks, about two minutes. Flip and repeat until all slices are well grilled on both sides.
Stretch dough large enough to fit to the edges of a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the cookie sheet with rough cornmeal and place the dough on top. Brush the dough with the chili garlic oil, making sure to coat the edges well. Lay tomato slices over the dough.
Sprinkle 2/3 of the mozzarella over the dough. Lay eggplant slices over the cheese in an even layer. Sprinkle olives, feta and a bit more mozzarella on top. Crack black pepper over top. Bake the pizza as hot as your oven will go until the cheese is blistered and the exposed crust round the edges is golden.
Photos: Tyrel Hiebert