September 14, 2011

Roasted Eggplant and Tahini Pizza

Psst! Want to know a secret? My secret weapon when it comes to whipping up quick and delicious everyday dinners? Ready? Okay... here it is:

Trader Joe's.

Yup. He and I have been getting to know each other pretty well these past few months. Well, getting reacquainted, really. Oh how I've missed you old friend!

The most profound cooking lessons I've learned these past few years is that I don't have to make EVERYTHING from scratch to have a great meal. Hey, I get it. You're tired after a long day at work and the last thing you want to do is boil chicken bones to make stock for your soup. That's more of a weekend project for those of us who are so inclined. After a stressful day of work, the best release is to sit back and enjoy a healthy & delicious meal with loved ones. So why not give yourself a break and invest in some yummy kitchen helpers. Not only will it help you put together complete meals in half the time, it will also allow you to be a little more creative - think on the fly - when you have such a wealth of options available. Honestly, that's how dinner comes together most nights at our house. 

For this pizza, I used a pre-made whole wheat dough from Trader Joe's. Actually, I bought the dough several weeks ago and kept it in my freezer until I needed to use it. Just let it sit out on the counter for a few hours until it's thawed through. It's okay if the dough sits out, gets warm and starts to rise - that's exactly what you want! You could also let it thaw in the fridge overnight if you're thinking that far ahead. Or soak it in a bowl of hot water for about 20 minutes, which is what I did this time. Options galore. I also found a small tub of Tahini Spread at Trader Joe's. Tahini spread! The original recipe calls for making your own spread but as it turns out, Trader Joe already made it for us. Now ain't he a swell fellow? 

Other TJ products I love: garlic naan, potstickers, vegetable quinoa, frenched rack of lamb, individually packaged organic chicken breasts, sweet potato fries... I either buy a lot of their frozen items or I buy meats and freeze them for later. Second most profound cooking lesson I've learned: the freezer is an often under-utilized appliance! I think I'll have to start a page for tried and true TJ products and include suggestions for how you can utilize them. And I love that they have new things to try all the time!

Are you excited for your next TJ trip yet? 

Roasted Eggplant & Tahini Pizza

half container of Trader Joe's Tahini Spread (or make your own)*
lemon juice (optional)
1 package Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza dough (or make your own)

1 eggplant, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried Herbs de Provence (sub: dried oregano, thyme)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup crumbled feta
fresh thyme
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 500^F. Thin out the tahini spread with a squeeze of lemon juice (optional). 
Set aside.

Toss cubed eggplant with olive oil, salt & pepper, dried herbs and onions. 
Spread out in a single layer on a large baking sheet. You may need to use two baking sheets or roast in two batches. Don't overcrowd the baking sheet - give those guys a lot of room so they can roast, or else they'll just steam. 
Roast 15 minutes.

Roll out the dough (there are some instructions on the package)**. Place dough on a baking sheet generously coated with cornmeal. The cornmeal should almost completely cover the baking sheet - this prevents the crust from sticking to the sheet and also gives it that crunch on the bottom. Spread the tahini mix onto the crust. Then top with eggplant & onion mix, sprinkle with feta & fresh thyme. Drizzle with olive oil. 
Bake 10-15 minutes until edges are crisp.

*tahini spread: 3 tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 minced clove garlic, salt & pepper. mix together.
**you could also work the dough right in the sheet pan. give the pan a generous covering of cornmeal. flour your hands and the dough, place on the sheet with the cornmeal. starting from the middle, push and knead the dough towards the edges of the pan, working clockwise. let the dough take any shape it wants, it doesn't have to be perfect - just as long as there are no holes and it is of fairly uniformed thickness.

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