Time sure flies by. It seems like yesterday when I finished the month long marathon based on global cuisine and it's time now for another month long marathon. For the uninitiated, we, a group of bloggers post a dozen 'theme' based recipes each month and do 'month' long blogging during April and September months. The blogging marathon event is the brainchild of Srivalli's and anyone interested to learn more / participate in the future events can check the link below for the details. This time the group chose to go with the 'baking' theme - 'Fire up your oven' and Valli decided not to impose any sub-themes to make the participants' lives easier. However bloggers are free to come up with their own themes for this event as long as they stick to baking.
And what an irony! It turns out that going with sub-themes is more stress free. I kept procrastinating until the last minute being not able to decide what to cook. Lists were made only to come up with a new one each day. And I was so fed up that I finally decided to bake some dishes that I thought my family would love and come up with themes based on those and it seemed to work somehow. I have yet to bake 1/3 of the dishes and hopefully I would be able to present the dishes in the way I have planned.
The first one in the series is going to be these eggplant pizzas. One idea that kept popping in my mind was 'flour-less baking' when I was planning for this event and around the same time I came across these on MSN website. A little google search enlightened me that the idea/ recipe has been in circulation for years or decades now. I prepared these keeping my husband in mind since he is an ardent fan of that vegetable while the rest at home are not so enthusiastic about it. It is a gluten-free and less guiltier option over the traditional flour based pizzas. They look cute as single serving appetizers or can go in a sandwich and are a treat for eggplant lovers.
The original recipe mentions to use 1 inch thick eggplant slices but I used 1/2 inch thick slices. To see how 1 inch ones work, I cut a couple of slices in that size too. And my recommendation is to go with less than 1/2 inch ones. I skipped spinach leaves as my husband is not fond of those and used a basil - oregano tomato sauce. The base is not going to be very crispy but can still hold the fillings and the sauce.
1 large eggplant, sliced a little thicker than 1/4 inch (I had about 14 slices and updating the info.)
1/2 - 1 tsp. salt to taste
8 oz. tomato sauce
Mozzarella cheese as needed
14 - 15 grape tomatoes, sliced
Chili flakes (optional)
Method: (Details in the parenthesis are my recommendations.)
* Preheat oven to 425 deg F.
* Arrange the eggplant slices on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle salt over the slices and bake them for about 15 - 20 minutes. (Eggplant slices can be lightly brushed with olive oil before placing in the oven. Flip them halfway through baking.)
* Remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn on the broiler setting. Spread about a tsp of sauce over the eggplant slice and sprinkle cheese over it. Arrange the grape tomato slices evenly (and any other vegetables you want to use as toppings) over the cheese. Sprinkle chili flakes if using.
(If you feel the eggplant slices are not going to be cooked perfect, they can be baked until the cheese melts instead of broiling.)
* Broil for about 3 to 4 minutes. Keep an eye while broiling as they can burn pretty fast.
* Serve warm immediately, sprinkling some more red chili flakes if needed.