When I was young I hated gardening. At the beginning of each summer we always had a long day where we would prep the garden and plant everything. We would get up early and go buy all the plants, pull out all the weeds from the garden, lay down black plastic, put the plants in the ground and water everything. It seemed to last all day and I was not a fan. I would try to find ways to get out of it, but was usually not successful. This hatred didn’t last for long, however, and I eventually grew to love gardening. I got older and began to appreciate the value of work, and realized the return on gardening was great. I even began to love the process! We would bring a speaker out and listen to great music while we worked in the dirt. There are few better combinations if you ask me.
Each year we always have our staples – tomatoes, squash, basil – but we also try new things each year. We’ve tried eggplant, chives, pumpkin, bell peppers, mint, etc. Speaking of mint, here’s a rant: a half a cup of fresh mint at the grocery store is upwards of $4. My whole life I thought that mint must be hard to grow, explaining why it was so expensive, until one year when we planted it ourselves. IT GREW LIKE A FREAKING WEED. It nearly took over all the plants in the garden. From then on we had to plant it in a pot because it would grow so rapidly. Why it is so expensive at the grocery store is beyond me. So if you use mint often and want to save a few bucks, plant some in a pot next summer.
Anyway, the best part of gardening, by far, is reaping what you’ve sown. There is nothing better than a fresh grown tomato that is oh so sweet, or being able to run outside and grabbing a few leaves of fresh lemon basil whenever you need it.
I know its winter right now, but I am having summer withdrawals, thus today’s eggplant pizza. It is made with eggplant, mozzarella, and garden fresh tomatoes and it is oh so good. I think this is making my summer withdrawals worse, but it could be made in the winter too if you can find a decent tomato at your grocery store. If you can, then its worth it. If you can’t, the second summer hits, this needs to be on your menu. Or, tomato sauce can be used in lieu of fresh tomatoes.
For the cheese I use mozzarella, and I usually use the kind from Costco that comes precut in the perfect size. I put a slice on top of each eggplant, a few fresh basil leaves and a fat slice of tomato. Then for the last five minutes of cook time I put some parmesan cheese on and put the oven to broil – as shown in the next two pictures:
Some people are not fans of eggplant because it has a stronger, distinct taste, but that taste really cooks down. The eggplant does not dominate at all and blends nicely with the other flavors. I promise these eggplant pizzas will become a new favorite.
- 1 eggplant
- 2 large tomatoes (may need more, depending on their size)
- 12 slices mozzarella
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup parmesan
- salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the eggplant in rounds, 1/2″ thick. Slice the tomatoes 1/4″ thick. Place tinfoil on a cookie sheet and begin to build the pizzas by putting a slice of eggplant, a few leaves of basil, a slice of mozzarella, a slice of tomato, and salt and pepper. When pizzas are assembled, cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Take pizzas out of the oven and sprinkle on parmesan cheese. Turn oven to broil at 450 degrees and return pizzas to the oven for an additional 5 minutes to brown the cheese. Let cool for 10 minutes.
If fresh tomatoes can’t be found (thank you winter), tomato sauce can be used instead.