Thursday, August 9, 2007

Pita Pizzas

Psycling is out of town for a conference, so I decided to take advantage of this to cook with things he normally doesn't like. A few days ago, I made the African Ground Nut Stew with Chive Sour Cream from the May 2007 Issue of Cooking Light. It was full of yummy sweet potatoes. Tonight, I invited some friends over, and made some Pita Pizzas. They came out really well!

There are two kinds of pizzas. The two in back have roasted eggplant and garlic with fresh mozzarella and basil. The one in front has braised fennel with oranges and goat cheese. They both came out wonderful! These recipes are both going to be first drafts, as I try to remember what I did, so I don't have exact serving sizes. But I'll give it my best shot. If you try these, please let me know how they turn out. I'm always looking for feedback on how to improve my recipe writing.

Pita Pizza with Roasted Eggplant and Garlic

2 Large pocketless Pita
1/2 Head of garlic
Lots of olive oil
1 Japanese Eggplant, thinly sliced
2 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. dried oregano2 Tbs. Butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. red wine vinegar
6-7 ~1" balls fresh mozzarella, sliced
6-8 large basil leaves, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Place garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with about 1 tsp. of Olive oil. Roast in oven for about 25 minutes, or until soft.
3. While garlic is roasting, slice eggplant and arrange on a tray or plate in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, rinse eggplant and pat dry. Place in a large jelly roll pan sprayed with cooking spray, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 425 F about 12 minutes, until soft and browning. Remove and set aside.
4. Heat butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, and sautee until soft and fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Add vinegar, and reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally. Cook another 10 minutes or until onions are nice and caramelized. Set aside.
5. To assemble pizzas, brush pitas with olive oil. Squeeze the pulp of 4-5 cloves of roasted garlic on each pita, and then top each one with half of caramelized onion mixture. Arrange eggplant over onions, top with mozzarella slices, and sprinkle basil. Bake on a warmed pizza stone at 425 F for about 7 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Cooks Notes: I had a little bit of eggplant left over, so if you're an eggplant fan, feel free to load it on. I also sprinkled a little bit of salt and pepper over the top of the pizza before baking. This makes two pizzas, which would be a nice meal for 2 if accompanied by a green salad.

Another of my favorite ingredients that Psycling is not a big fan of is Fennel. I decided I wanted to make something with fennel while he was out of town, but I wasn't sure what. So, I looked up fennel in one of my favorite kitchen references, and saw that fennel pairs well with oranges. That's when it came to me...I would do a fennel and orange pizza with goat cheese. This was an experiment, and now, I think it has become one of my favorite recipes.

Pita Pizza with Braised Fennel, Oranges, and Goat Cheese

3 large pocketless pitas
6 Tbs. Olive oil (divided), plus extra for brushing
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 fennel bulb, with fronds removed, halved vertically, then sliced
1 Tbs. fresh grated orange zest
1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
2 oz. crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees.
2. Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat in large non-stick sautee pan. Add onion, and sautee 4-5 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add garlic and sautee another 30 seconds. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. In same pan, add rest of olive oil, fennel, and orange zest, and sautee for 2-3 minutes. Add broth and sugar, and stir. Then cover and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set asside.
4. To assemble pizzas, brush pitas with olive oil, and top each with 1/3 of onion mixture. Add 1/3 of fennel mixture, then sprinkle each with 1/3 of goat cheese crumbles. Top with orange slized. Bake at 425F until cheese is soft and beginning to brown.

Cook's notes: I can't say enough how much I loved this pizza. The orange, fennel, and goat cheese worked so well together, and the garlic was strong, but not over-powering. This serves 3, and would make a good meal paired with a fruit salad.