Aubergine, Chocolate and Goats’ Cheese Pizzette

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes about

    8–10

    small pizzette

Appears in

The aubergine mixture is based on the Sicilian caponata, and uses sweet-and-sour elements of vinegar and chocolate to complement the aubergine. The pizza and goats’ cheese are among my all-time favourite ingredients.

These baby pizzas can be assembled and cooked at the last minute, having prepared all the ingredients beforehand, making them perfect finger food. Make the dough 6–8 hours ahead: in the morning or the night before, if you are having this for lunch.

If you haven’t got the time to make the Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar, or don’t want to be bothered, you could sprinkle the cooked aubergine with some unsweetened cocoa powder and balsamic vinegar before assembling the pizza.

Ingredients

For the Pizza Dough

  • 400 g 00 (Italian doppio zero) flour
  • 8 g sugar
  • 12 g dried yeast
  • 8 g salt
  • 250 ml iced water

For the Topping

  • 2 aubergines, each about 350 g
  • 1 big red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for the aubergine
  • 15 g butter
  • 6 tomatoes, skinned, or 1 large tin of peeled plum tomatoes
  • semolina or plain flour, for dusting
  • 200 g fresh goats’ cheese
  • handful of good black olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 tbsp miniature capers
  • 200 g grated Cheddar, chopped mozzarella or other cheese
  • 100 g pine nuts
  • about 3 tsp Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
  • handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • sprinkling of smoked paprika (optional)

Method

Make the dough: in a large bowl, mix the flour with the sugar, yeast and salt, trying not to let them come into direct contact. Add some iced water and knead quickly, adding more water as necessary, until you have a ball of elastic dough – this takes about 5 minutes. Cover the dough with cling film and put it into the fridge immediately. Leave it for an hour or two. This way of making the dough allows the yeast and flavours to develop very slowly, and when you roll it out it will burst into life.

Prepare the topping: cut the aubergines into quarters lengthwise, and then into 1 cm slices. Salt the slices and leave to sweat in a colander.

Meanwhile, sauté the finely chopped onion, garlic and fennel in olive oil and butter over a low heat for 10–15 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their liquid and simmer for another 10–15 minutes, until it has a thickish, sauce-like consistency.

The aubergine will now be discoloured and covered in droplets of moisture. Pat the aubergine dry with kitchen towel and then shallow-fry in as little olive oil as possible in a large frying pan, until browned on both sides and quite well cooked, about 5 minutes. You may need to do this in batches.

Preheat the oven to the hottest temperature available. Oil several flat baking sheets then dust them with semolina. Whiz the tomato sauce with a hand-held mixer. Get the dough out of the fridge and cut it into 8–10 pieces. Roll each piece out as thinly as possible into 15 cm rounds and arrange on the prepared baking trays. (You could even make miniature ones in tartlet tins.) Cover the pizzas with tomato sauce and arrange the aubergine, crumbled goats’ cheese, olives and capers on top. Sprinkle with grated cheese and pine nuts, and put into the hot oven for 10–15 minutes until crisp.

Just before serving, drizzle the chocolate vinegar over the pizzette, followed by some flat-leaf parsley and smoked paprika if you like.

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