Did you know that eggplants were introduced to the Mediterranean from North Africa during the Middle Ages? That there is no Latin or Greek word for eggplant, only the Romance albergínia, aubergine, berenjena, and beringela, from the Arabic al-badnijan? (So why do the Italians call it melenzana?)
Eggplant and Manchego Pizza
Ingredients for two 8-inch pizzas:
One eggplant, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup tomato sauce (plain, no added italian seasonings, or basil and onion combo, etc.)
1/4 lb Manchego cheese
1/4 lb Mozzarella cheese
3-4 basil leaves, julienned
Use your favorite pizza crust recipe, like this or this, or use a pre-made crust. I used a pre-made Vicolo cornmeal crust.
Lay the eggplant slices on a large plate and sprinkle both sides with coarse salt. Let sit for 30 minutes or so.
After 30 minutes, wipe the salt off the eggplant slices and dredge them lightly in flour. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet and fry the eggplant for approximately 5 minutes each side, depending on thickness. Add additional oil as necessary, but there is no need to submerge the eggplant slices. Drain the cooked slices on paper towels as you remove them from the skillet. This can be done an hour or so ahead.
Preheat the oven to 425, or as directed for your pizza dough.
Place your pizza crust(s) on a cookie tray or baking dish, and spread tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle the Manchego cheese evenly over the pizza, and place as many eggplant slices as fit without overlapping on top. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the eggplant.
Bake as directed for your pizza crust. When the pizza smells good and looks lovely, remove from the oven. Let sit for a minute or two before slicing, seasoning with salt, and sprinkling with basil.
There are words for basil in Greek (basileus) and Latin (basilicum), by the way.
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