I can you hear you looking at this picture and saying “that is NOT a white pizza” and I get it, I would raise an eyebrow and call me on this too. However. Though this pizza looks red, it is in fact tomato sauce-less so it’s a pizza bianca as far as I’m concerned and I hope we can get past our differences here. Now on to the smoky eggplant part.
So there’s this thing called eggplant bacon. Wait. Yes. I get that it’s not bacon but whatever it is it’s so good that you’re gonna want to let me have this one too. I discovered it on a site that no longer seems to be publishing but their version used liquid smoke which I didn’t love, but I loved how those thin strips of eggplant crisped up to this reasonable bacon facsimile. My version uses smoked paprika–all the smoke, more natural and more attractive if I do say so. Anyway, I got to thinking about how it would taste on a pizza so I tried it and it was really good. I know. Not an entertaining story. But an easy and very, very enjoyable recipe. And isn’t that even better? Good.
White Pizza with Smoky Eggplant and Ricotta
Extra-virgin olive oil
Pizza dough, store-bought or 1/2 of the dough from this recipe (save the other half for another use)
1/2 large Italian eggplant, trimmed
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 c, scant, ricotta
Chilies in oil (optional)
Handful fresh basil or other herbs (optional)
Preheat oven to 525F degrees.
Oil a round pizza tray or a 13 X 18 inch rimmed baking sheet (or any baking sheet or pizza tray you’d like to use). Gently pull and stretch the dough across the surface of the pan, and use your hands to press it evenly out to the edges. Oil your hands slightly if the dough sticks to them, and pinch any holes together that may form in the dough.
Slice the eggplant as thinly as possible lengthwise. Keep 4 strips long and cut the rest in half crosswise. Lay the 4 long strips across the pizza to form a quadrant, with the bottom curve at the pizza’s edge and the stem ends overlapping on the middle. Cover the rest of the dough with the remaining smaller slices, overlapping slightly in a fan.
Whisk the smoked paprika and salt into 1/4 cup of oil. Use a pasty brush to brush the oil onto the eggplant slices.
Bake for 12-15 minutes but check after 10 to make sure the pizza isn’t burning. How long it takes will depend on your oven, your tray and how thick your crust is. Don’t be afraid of a slight char around the edges. It’s done when the eggplant has browned and is just threatening to blacken in spots and your crust could shatter. Remove, let cool for a minute, slice and serve the ricotta piled in the centre of the pizza or in small dollops evenly across the pizza. Drizzle with chili oil and garnish with herbs if using.