Sausage, Pepper, and Onion Eggplant Pizza
August 18, 2017 by Nicole Collins
I can be kind of a sucker sometimes.
It's funny, because I've worked in Sales or a Sales Related job for most of my adult career. So, I've always had the motto “You can't sell a seller.” I'd like to think that I can hold my own in an environment where sales people are coming at you like vultures. Unless there's food involved. Then, it's like I forget everything I know about everything.
In a grocery store environment, I am definitely the person that the end caps were created for. I can't tell you how many products I've purchased solely because of their placement on the end caps. Most of it is stuff I don't need, and sometimes it's stuff that I don't even really like. I'm having flashbacks to last year's pumpkin spice shrine at my regular grocery store. It's embarrassing, really.
It's like I go in to raccoon mode or something. Like “Ooooo...shiny. Must have.” I also have this problem in the craft store. When I see glitter or bright colors, I lose my mind. I really shouldn't be trusted to shop at the grocery store or the craft store alone.
I also find myself in this position in restaurants. Maybe it's because I'm so in to food, but I just get sucked in so easily! I know better than to ask the server what their suggestions are, because it's the number one rule to upsell and recommend the most expensive of the options. I've never worked in a restaurant before, but I know that's Server 101. And yet, I still ask. And, I still get upsold. I can't help myself.
I'm going to guess that no one would be surprised when I tell them that I just received $30 worth of sprinkles in the mail. And $12 of that $30 was shipping charges. I don't even really like sprinkles. But, pretty.
I tell you all of this, because that is how peppers ended up in today's recipe.
I'm on this huge Farmer's Market kick right now. I'm trying to check out as many as I can in close proximity to me. But, it's dangerous for me. Because, I see something pretty; and before I know it, I've got a car full of produce that I don't have a plan for.
I have a thing for multicolored vegetables. Some people would call it a flaw. But, I call it art. So, I saw these baby red/green combo peppers at the Farmer's Market, and I was in a trance. I had a full meal plan at the time, and peppers were not invited to the party. But, I HAD TO HAVE THEM! And, once the farmer told me they were sweet peppers and all of the things they were good for, they were in my bag before she could even finish her sentence.
It's kind of amazing though, because I love how food inspires a meal. It's really fun to decide what I want to make based on what looks good at the market that day. I'm a planner to the core, so that can be a little hard for me to take that leap of faith. But, I'm NEVER disappointed with the end result. When the food speaks, you listen.
The eggplant pizza we're making today was just going to be basic: eggplant, meat sauce, and cheese. But, I had these peppers that I needed to find a use for. And, I started thinking about sausage, peppers, and onions. I had already planned on putting turkey sausage in my sauce; and then, the dots connected in my brain. Sausage, pepper, and onion eggplant pizza!
It probably took me longer to get there than it should've, honestly. Lol. But, we made it. And that's all that matters!
These eggplant pizzas are SO hearty. They're SO healthy. They're SO easy. And, they're SO yummy! I don't think we could ask for much more than that.
It starts with roasted eggplant slices. We slice them pretty thick so they keep some body to them without turning in to mush once they're baked off. We also salt them and let them sit for a bit to draw out the moisture.
While the eggplant roasts, we make a chunky meat sauce with diced tomatoes, garlic, italian seasoning, turkey sausage, and a hint of balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. I prefer to use sweet italian turkey sausage, but you can certainly use your favorite. If you prefer pork sausage, go for it! If you prefer hot and spicy sausage, do you babes!
When the eggplant is done roasting and the sauce is done simmering, we spread the sauce on the eggplant, pile on some mozzarella, make it pretty with our peppers and onions, and finish with more cheese. That gets popped under the broiler to get nice and brown and bubbly. And, we're done! These pizzas don't need a ton of attention which is great for those days when multitasking is the only way to survive.
That farmer selling me up in to these peppers was the best thing that happened to me that day, without doubt. Because, these pizzas are 100 times better that what I originally had planned for you. I guess being a sucker for food isn't so bad, after all!
Even though I can't be trusted in a grocery or craft store, if you ever need someone to put on their “no BS business voice” when you're buying a car or washing machine or something, I'm your girl.
But, until then...let's eat!
Sausage, Pepper, and Onion Eggplant Pizza
Serves: 4 Print
For the Eggplant:
2 ½ lbs eggplant (one large and one small eggplant)
1-2 tbsp salt
olive oil cooking spray
For the Meat Sauce:
3 links sweet italian turkey sausage, casing removed
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp italian seasoning
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
½ cup sweet mini peppers, sliced (or chopped bell pepper)
¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups mozzarella
Prepare the eggplant: Slice ends off eggplant. Slice eggplant to roughly ¾ inch slices (about the width of 1 and ½ fingers). Line a large baking tray with paper towels. Sprinkle 1-2 tbsp salt on both sides of the cut eggplant. Let sit for 25-30 mins to draw out the moisture in the eggplant. After 30 mins, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Blot both sides of the eggplant with a paper towel to absorb moisture and extra salt. Remove the paper towels, and line the same baking tray with aluminum foil. Spray foil with olive oil cooking spray. Lay the eggplant slices in a single layer on the tray. Spritz the tops with olive oil spray. Roast for 25 mins.
Meanwhile, make the Sauce: In a large high sided skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Crumble italian turkey sausage in to the pan, and cook until no longer pink, about 8-10 mins. Add minced garlic, and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, balsamic, and brown sugar. Stir to combine with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom to pick up and browned bits. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15-20 mins, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
Assemble the pizzas: When eggplant is finished roasting, turn on the broiler. Spoon roughly 1 tbsp of meat sauce over the top of each slice (evenly dividing the sauce). Top with 1 ½ cups mozzarella (evenly diving between the slices). Divide peppers and onion between each eggplant slice, and place on top of mozzarella. Finish by using the last ½ cup of cheese to top the veggies. Broil for 5-6 minutes until cheese is bubbly and starts to brown. Remove from oven, and enjoy!
*There are different schools of thought when it comes to salting eggplant before roasting. Some say it takes out the bitterness. Some think roasted eggplant is fine without salting it first. I prefer to salt eggplant. We also want to draw out the extra moisture in the eggplant so that our pizzas aren't soggy.
*I used mini sweet peppers and sliced them in to rings because they're pretty, and because I couldn't resist them at the farmer's market. Thinly sliced green or red bell pepper will work just fine here too.
*I prefer sweet italian turkey sausage, but you could certainly use pork sausage or spicy sausage here.
*I keep tomato paste in the freezer, and just take it out to thaw it as I need it. This works great since most recipes don't call for much more than a tablespoon at a time of it.