We are still getting eggplants by the bushel; so instead of the usual baba ghannouj, we made eggplant-topped pizza today, with a zaatar-flavored crust.
One important thing I learned while visiting Abu Kassem and his zaatar fields: Zaatar is a tremendously healthy herb, (strengthening immunity and increasing circulation for example).
Guess what? This pizza dough contains zaatar. Whole, driedzaatar(oregano) leaves. About a tablespoon.
For three medium pizzas:
First step: Make the zaatar-flavored pizza dough.
- 3 cups of all-purpose or bread flour
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of zaatar
- dash of salt
- 3/4 cup of water (or a bit more, as needed)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast
- 1/2 tablespoon of sugar or honey or molasses
- Proof the yeast in 1/4 cup of water and some sugar for 10 minutes.
- Place the flour, salt, yeast mixture, olive oil, zaatar and water in a food processor. Run the machine for one or more minutes until the dough is compact and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp towel and place in a warm spot to rise (about one hour or so).
Second step: Prepare the sauce and eggplant topping.
- 3 pounds of eggplants
- 2 cups of prepared tomato sauce (very thick)
- 6 cups of white sauce ( 1 stick of butter, 1 cup of flour, 6 cups of hot milk)
- 2 pounds of shredded mozzarella
- 1 pound of sliced ham or turkey, cut in bits (optional)
- Fresh Basil and oregano (optional)
- Peel the eggplants and sprinkle with salt for one hour; rinse and dry. Fry in some olive oil (or grill or bake in the oven with some olive oil brushed on both sides)
- When the eggplants are soft and done, cool and wipe the excess oil. Set aside.
- Prepare the white sauce by melting one stick of butter or margarine in the pan, adding one cup of flour, stirring until the flour and butter mixture are pasty and cook for a minute or two. Gradually add 6 cups of milk; keep stirring until the mixture thickens and is smooth.
- Add the tomato sauce to the white sauce and stir well. Taste for seasoning. The sauce should be very thick.
- Divide the dough into three portions (two if you like your pizzas thick)
- Roll out into a greased pizza or round pan. Place the ham bits all over if using.
- Pour a few ladles of sauce on top; sprinkle some cheese; add the eggplants in a circular fashion.
- Sprinkle with some additional oregano and a teaspoon of olive oil per pizza.
- Bake in a preheated 450F oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and puffed up. Serve. (Sprinkle with shredded basil).
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