Middle Eastern Pizza

>> Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I'm sure I'm not the only one watching The Next Food Network Star, right? Two weeks ago Penny (the Middle Eastern mama) made this pizza for one of their challenges. Now while I don't really agree with Penny's aggressive tactics on the show, I still wanted to give her recipe a try. You see my parents spent nine years living in the Middle East and as a consequence, we ate a lot of Middle Eastern food growing up. We ate hummus, couscous, tabbouleh, pita bread, falafel, and baba ghanoush way before it was cool/trendy to do so. I remember in high school wanting to hang out at my friend Jennie's house because her pantry was always stocked with normal things - goldfish, cookies, chips, etc. and she always wanted to come eat dinner at my house because we usually offered more unique fare.

Anyway, back to the pizza. I made this while we were staying with my parents. I must say, this pizza was a little more labor intensive than I usually like my pizza recipes to be, but it was a killer pizza. Definitely not your usual hum-drum pizza, that's for sure! And I almost felt healthy eating it since it had lots of veggies on it.

The recipe makes a lot of sauce and toppings - enough for two pizzas, even though the recipe only says it makes one pizza. I ended up using the leftover sauce and toppings over pasta for lunch and that was great too.

Middle Eastern Pizza

for the sauce
2 T olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested
1/4 t ground coriander
2 14.5-oz cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2-3 T tomato paste
salt and pepper

for the pizza
1 lb prepared pizza dough
5 T olive oil, divided
1 medium eggplant, diced
1 t roasted cumin
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
8 oz fresh buffalo mozzarella
1/4 c kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 c sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
3/4 c feta cheese, crumbled
fresh mint, torn, for garnish

For the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, lemon zest, ground coriander and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes and cook about 20 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook another 5 minutes, or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

For the pizza: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle a little olive oil on a baking sheet and stretch dough to roughly fit the pan. Brush dough with a little more olive oil and bake until just barely golden, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cumin, season with salt and pepper, and cook until eggplant is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

In another skillet, heat 1 T olive oil over medium heat. Add red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Top the crust with 1 c of sauce, the mozzarella, eggplant, caramelized onion, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and feta. Return to oven and cook until the cheese melts and the crust is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Generously top pizza with mint, slice into pieces and serve.


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