Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mediterranean Pizza

On Friday, Justin and I decided to make a Mediterranean pizza. I don't know how I came up with the idea, but it turned out amazingly well. Using a Trader Joe's herbed pizza crust as a base, we substituted homemade hummus for tomato sauce and had three different kinds of cheese: feta, mozzarella, and goat cheese (I don't think goat cheese is Mediterranean, but its creamy tangy-ness is incredible on a pizza). Unless you make your own pizza dough, I highly recommend Trader Joe's crust. It's nice and crispy, but chewy in the middle, which makes for a very satisfying texture combination. (Their bagels are the same way).

Anyways, on top of the hummus and cheeses, we sprinkled on a bunch of Mediterranean goodness. What an explosion of flavors! Sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, grilled chicken (it was unnecessary protein since we already had the hummus, but Justin loves chicken, so why not?), roasted red peppers, and anchovies (I used to scoff at these little fishies, but they are so flavorful and tasty! Plus they're packed with Omega-3 benefits). Although individually these ingredients can be rather pricey, we used so little of each that the unit cost of the pizza is pretty cheap. If you usually have these ingredients on hand, you've got to try this pizza! There's really no going back to greasy diner pizza after making your own gourmet version.

A tip about roasted red peppers: you can make your own. They can be pretty expensive to buy in the store, but when red peppers are in season (and therefore cheaper and better tasting), all you need to do us broil it until the skin starts to blacken, put it in a covered pot to steam, and peel off the skin when it is cool enough. Enjoy!

Along with the pizza we had Parmesan-crusted eggplant. The recipe is below. Eggplant is so versatile. It's spongy, though, and soaks up everything, so measure carefully how much oil you add to it.

Pizza Toppings:

1 cup of hummus (more or less depending on how thick you want it spread)
1/4 cup each of mozzarella, feta, and goat cheese
2-3 pitted kalamata olives, minced
2-3 anchovies, minced
2-3 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/8 cup of roasted red peppers,
chopped
Half of one grilled chicken breast, cut into strips (about 4 oz)

Directions:
Preheat oven according to pizza crust instructions.
Lightly brush edges of pizza with extra virgin olive oil (I used the same oil that the sun-dried tomatoes come packed in). Spread hummus on pizza, leaving about a 1.5 inch crust margin. Sprinkle mozzarella, feta, and goat cheese. Sprinkle the rest of the toppings onto the pizza. Bake according to the pizza crust instructions.

Altogether, the pizza took about 20 minutes total to make.

Homemade Hummus
(This will make enough for the pizza plus a little left over)

1 12 oz. can chickpeas (liquid reserved)
1/4 cup tahini
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 tablespoon cumin
juice from 1/2 lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients together using a blender, food processor, or hand-held mixer (just make sure to use pressed garlic instead of minced if using a hand-held mixer). Add reserved chickpea liquid as needed if mixture is too dry to blend properly.

Parmesan-Crusted Eggplant
(Adapted from http://healthyrecipes.oregonstate.edu/)

Peel the eggplant and cut into 1 1/2 inch slices (I left the skin on to make the photo prettier, but the skin is not nice to eat). Brush one side of each slice with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Place on an oiled sheet and broil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven and flip over, adding oil and seasonings to other side. Broil for 2-3 minutes longer. It's also good on sandwiches.

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