I’m a ratatouille fancier, particularly when my family’s vegetable garden is in high gear in the fall, winter, and spring months. But how to turn ratatouille into a proper vegetarian main course? Pizzas, tarts, and pasta dishes are my favored go-to methods.
In this pizza recipe, I have, shall we say, piled it on. A medley of roasted eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, red bell peppers, and onions is included to give veggie goodness. A three-cheese base and pine nut topping is added for protein. And since I love all things fennel, I have used two forms of this noble herb through touches of fresh fennel greens and fennel seed. A splash of pernod is also added for good measure.
Instructions for homemade pizza dough, which I use, are provided for this dish; however, prepared pizza or bread dough may also be conveniently substituted by time-strapped readers.
For the pizza dough:
3/4 cup slightly warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups unbleached wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
For the topping:
4 cups fresh eggplant, cubed
1 onion, peeled and cut into thick slices
2 cups fresh zucchini, sliced
2 medium-sized fresh red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed, and sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced or pressed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 fresh plum tomatoes, stemmed and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh fennel greens, chopped
(optional) 2 teaspoons pernod (aniseed-flavored liqueur)
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
1/4 cup provolone or jack cheese, coarsely grated
1/2 cup romano cheese, finely grated
1 tablespoon pine nuts
- Prepare the pizza dough: In large mixing bowl, combine water and yeast. Set aside for 2 minutes or until the yeast is fully dissolved. Add sugar, 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt, and 2 cups flour. Beat for approximately 5 minutes with a whisk or mixer until the batter is smooth. Add the remaining flour and, using a stout wooden spoon or mixer dough attachment, stir until fully blended. Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface dusted with flour, knead the dough for approximately two minutes. Lightly oil the mixing bowl, return the dough to it, cover the bowl, and set it aside in a warm place while you are roasting the vegetables below.
- Place eggplant, onion, zucchini, and red bell pepper in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the garlic, olive oil, crushed fennel seed, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Spread the vegetable mixture on a large baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees F. in the top third of the oven for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the roasted vegetables, stir, and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Stir in the fennel greens and pernod. Set the baking sheet aside to cool.
- Lightly oil a pizza pan. On a smooth work surface dusted with flour, roll the pizza dough into a flat disk slightly larger than the pan. Place the dough on the pizza pan and create a raised edge around the dough’s perimeter. Sprinkle on the dough, in order, the mozzarella, provolone, romano cheese, roasted vegetables, and pine nuts. Set the pan aside in a warm place for 5 minutes.
- Bake at 400 degrees F. in the top third of the oven for approximately 25 minutes or until the pizza is lightly browned. Serves 4-6 as a main course.