EGGPLANT PARMESAN DEEP DISH PIZZA
The Pizza Dough:
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus 2 teaspoons to oil the bowl)
1 tablespoon honey
1 ½ cups warm water (120 degrees)
1 packet yeast
2 teaspoons salt
3 ½ – 4 cups flour
2 medium eggplants, about 2-pounds
¼ cup olive oil
3 cups Italian breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, chopped
1-pound sweet Italian bulk sausage
½ cup Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel Wine
1, 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
1 tablespoon Dish off the Block Ciao Bella Italian Spice Blend
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
The Fillings and Cheeses:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1, 10-ounce box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
15-ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
8-ounces ½” fresh mozzarella slices
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
To make your pizza dough, place olive oil, honey, and water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir with a spoon to dissolve honey into the water (so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the bowl). Sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm water, stir, and let sit for 5-10 minutes until yeast becomes foamy. Add salt and 3 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed, using the dough hook attachment. Gradually add as much of the remaining flour as needed until a ball forms. Empty dough onto a floured countertop and knead for 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic adding flour as needed if sticky.
Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour until doubled in bulk.
Slice your eggplant into ½” thick rounds.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Create a breading station, by beating the eggs in one shallow baking dish and put the breadcrumbs in another dish. When the oil is very hot, dip the eggplant slices in the egg, letting excess drop off and then press into the breadcrumbs on both sides. Add them to the hot oil and cook about 2-3 minutes per side until they are golden brown and tender when pierced with a fork. Drain on paper towels and season immediately with salt. Set aside.
To make your sauce, wipe the pan you used for the eggplant with paper towels to remove any debris. Add the olive oil to the pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add the sausage and cook for 4-5 minutes, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon or spatula, until it is cooked through. Add the wine, tomatoes with their juices, Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper to the pan. Cook for 10-15 minutes at a low boil, crushing the tomatoes with your wooden spoon into small pieces, allowing sauce to thicken and flavors to meld.
Once your dough is risen, punch it down and knead briefly. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts and form balls. Let one ball rest for 30 minutes under a clean kitchen towel. Refrigerate the other ball in a plastic bag sprayed with cooking spray for up to 5 days.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Spread the olive oil on the bottom and sides of a 12” cast iron skillet.
Form the dough into a 14” circle and place in the skillet. Push it ¾ of the way up the sides of the skillet creating a ‘deep’ crust.
Spread the shredded mozzarella in the bottom of the crust. Top the cheese with half of the eggplant slices, followed by ⅓ of the sausage sauce.
Then, spread the spinach on top of the sauce, season with the salt, and sprinkle ¼ cup of the parmesan cheese. Spread the ricotta on top in large dollops.
Add the remaining eggplant slices on top of the ricotta, followed by the remaining sauce. Top with the mozzarella slices and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese.
Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until browned and bubby. Let rest for 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and garnish with basil leaves. Pour another glass of Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel and devour!