As autumn falls in chilly earnest here in Berlin, I’m missing the warmth of Marrakech. (Isn’t it funny how the human condition seems to always be a sense of dissatisfaction? In Marrakech, I wanted nothing more than cold weather, yet here I am craving its heat!)
Since Morocco isn’t in our plans any time soon—and, in fact, we’re headed to the grey gloom of Ireland soon—I need to recapture that warmth through cooking. And that’s what this pizza is meant to do! The rich, warm spices in the ras el hanout, the roasted eggplant, and the sweet oven-dried tomatoes evoke the warmth of a day in Morocco, while the mint offers a little cooling surprise.
When you make this pizza, consider slicing the mint and sprinkling it evenly over the pizza. I prefer it this way, with the mint as an occasional accent rather than in every bite, but my taste testers agreed that the minty bites were the best.
Moroccan-Inspired Pizza with Roasted Eggplant, Ras el Hanout Crème Fraîche, Dried Tomatoes, & Mint
- 1 pizza dough ball (either basic pizza dough or 2-hour pizza dough is fine)
- 1 small to medium-sized graffiti eggplant (or substitute Chinese or Japanese eggplant)
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 8-10 oven-reasted or sundried tomato halves or quarters
- ¼ cup crème fraîche
- ¼ teaspoon ras el hanout
- 4 ounces mozzarella, cut into cubes
- 6 mint leaves
Prepare the oven and roast the eggplant:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with your pizza stone inside.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the eggplant into about 1/4” thick rounds. You’ll need about 8 to 10 slices depending on the size of the eggplant.
- Brush both sides of each eggplant slice with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast on the parchment-lined baking sheet at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until tender, about 20 minutes.
- As soon as the eggplant is done, remove it from the oven and turn the heat up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit (or as hot as your oven will go) with your pizza stone still inside.
Prepare the tomatoes and ras el hanout crème fraîche:
- If you’re using sundried tomatoes, cover them in boiling water for 5 to 8 minutes to soften. If you’re using oven-roasted tomatoes that you’ve prepared today that are still soft (my preference!), there’s no need to soak them.
- Mix the 1/4 cup of crème fraîche with a generous pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of ras el hanout.
- Stretch the pizza dough to an approximately 12” circle, then brush with a thin layer of olive oil.
- Sprinkle the mozzarella cubes evenly over the dough. Arrange the eggplant slices over the mozzarella, then evenly place the roasted or sundried-and-soaked tomato pieces on the pizza.
- Bake on your preheated pizza stone at 550 degrees Fahrenheit (or as hot as your oven will go) until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden-brown, rotating once halfway through.
- Drizzle or dollop ras el hanout crème fraîche onto the pizza, using as much or as little as you like. Slice into six pieces, and finish with a mint leaf on each slice.