Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Moroccan Style Eggplant Pita Pizza



Moroccan food isn’t talked about enough and it’s a damn dirty shame. Because of Morocco’s strategic location on the northern tip of Africa near Spain and the Middle East, its cuisine has touches of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors complete with the skillful use of bold spices and fresh ingredients. Since the cuisine is typically associated with tajine stews and couscous, I wanted to do something a little different.

In deference to Morocco’s proximity to Western Europe, I opted to do a pizza loaded with Moroccan flavors. With tender roasted eggplant, creamy yogurt, fresh tomatoes, and smear of flavored tahini, this dish is bound to please even the fussiest vegetarian guest.

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Medium - Easy
Prep and Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients

1 Large Eggplant, the top leaves and stem removed, and finely chopped

2 Teaspoons dried Parsley or Coriander

1 Heaping Teaspoon + 1 Pinch of Ras El Hanout – This is the national spice mix of Morocco used in everything from vegetables to stews to couscous. You can often find in among the spices in the ethnic section of major grocery chains and in health food stores and ethnic markets. Can’t find it? NO PROBLEM! Just mix equal parts cumin, dried ginger, coriander, cinnamon, pepper, cayenne pepper (be gentle with this stuff if you can’t handle spicy food), allspice, nutmeg, and ground cloves and a pinch of salt.

4 Tablespoons of Peeled, Minced Garlic - Divided

Salt to taste

5 Tablespoons of Olive Oil – Divided

Large Tomato, diced - OR - 11 Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, Coarsely Chopped
The best type of tomato to use will depend on the time of year. In the winter, regular tomatoes tend to be mealy and tasteless so you’re better off using cherry or grape tomatoes which are generally grown in greenhouses and stay sweet year-round.

4 Tablespoons of Greek Yogurt

2 Tablespoons of Grated Cucumber

½ a Teaspoon of Dried Mint

¼ Cup of Tahini aka Sesame Paste – Also available in the ethnic foods section of major grocery stores. If you can’t find it, try another smooth seed or nut butter but stay away from peanut butter.

4 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice or Vinegar - Divided

2 to 4 Medium Pita Breads – I used whole wheat ones, but use what you like.

Equipment

1 Large Baking Pan

1 Baking Sheet

1 Spatula

3 Regular Bowls

2 Regular Spoons

1 Knife and Cutting Board

1 Box Grater

Measuring Cups and Spoons


Preheat the oven to 350 oF.

Dump the eggplant into the baking pan.

Sprinkle with the Ras El Hanout, Dried Parsley, 2 Tablespoons of the garlic, and salt.

Drizzle with 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil and 2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice.

Mix everything together with your hands to evenly distribute the herbs, spices, and oil.

Roast the eggplant for 25 minutes, flipping the eggplant once with a spatula at the 15 minute mark.


While the eggplant is still hot, dump the tomatoes into the pan and stir everything together to soften them up. The acid in the tomatoes will give the eggplant an additional flavor boost.


In a regular bowl, combine some Olive Oil with a pinch of Ras El Hanout and a little salt and spread it on the pita breads with the back of a spoon.


Stick the pita breads in the oven for 5 minutes to crisp up.

In another regular bowl, mix the remaining Lemon Juice with the Tahini, the remaining Olive Oil and 1 Tablespoon of the Minced Garlic.

In your third bowl, mix the grated cucumber, remaining teaspoon of garlic, dried mint, and some salt to taste.

You’re now ready to assemble the pizzas.

Spread the tahini mix on each pita and top with a generous helping of the eggplant and tomato mixture.

Add a dollop of the yogurt mix and serve!

Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

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