Ever since I discovered that my favorite pizzeria near the hospital sells their amazing whole wheat dough, I’ve gotten a little pizza happy. Now, I don’t think you can ever eat too much pizza (my best friend and I have a brilliant plan to make millions by creating a “pizza cleanse” but we’re still figuring out just how that will work). Still, it can get kind of monotonous. Usually it’s just a standard veggie, mozzarella, tomato sauce type pizza with a simple salad on the side. I ventured out a little when I tried BBQ chicken pizza a few weeks ago, and it was amazing but still pretty standard. So when my friends and I decided to have yet another pizza night, I thought it was time to really switch things up. The pizza: hummus, roasted eggplant, spinach, and feta. The salad: butternut squash and chickpea with lemon-tahini dressing. (Yum).
The first step was roasting the vegetables involved in both of these. I sliced the eggplant and seasoned with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. The butternut squash I cubed and simply roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Now on to the salad. I know, it seems like a weird combo, but I was OBSESSED with this salad. The ingredients are simple—squash, chickpeas, cilantro, and red onion—but something about the lemon tahini dressing really ties it all together into this amazing sweet/savory salad.
I know my pictures aren’t that pretty…I made this at night and while I usually try to save leftovers to photograph in the day light, there were no leftovers to be found. But I swear this was awesome.
Since I was using raw pizza dough, I rolled out the dough and let it start to cook for about 5-7 minutes. Then I pulled it out of the oven, spread with hummus, and topped with the eggplant, spinach, and feta cheese and let cook another 5-7 minutes so the cheese could brown and the toppings could get warm. This Mediterranean twist on pizza night might just be my favorite one yet.
Nutritional Highlights: Love another great vegetarian meal that meat eaters will love! You still get plenty of protein from the hummus and feta on the pizza and the chickpeas in the salad. I know I’ve talked about this before, but butternut squash is an AWESOME addition to your diet. The bright orange color let’s you know that it’s full of phytonutrients and antioxidants, plus it’s low-fat, high-fiber, and has lots of vitamins and minerals like B6 and potassium. If you don’t eat many foods this color, then you’re missing out on beta-carotene (which your body converts to vitamin A) and has been associated with amazing health benefits like protection against heart disease and some cancers. Eggplant also contains phytonutrients that give it it’s unique purple color. Nasunin, found in the skin, is an antioxidant and free radical scavenger that is said to protect cells from some damage.
Basically, the themes of this meal are: try to eat as many colors as possible and try to find interesting twists on your favorite meals to add variety to your diet!!
Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who Adapted from Orangette, who adapted it from Casa Moro
Yield: 4 servings
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoons ground allspice (I skipped this)
2 tablespoons olive oil
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (I like cilantro with this!)
For tahini dressing:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated. Roast them on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.
Meanwhile, make the tahini dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend. Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. The sauce should have plenty of nutty tahini flavor, but also a little kick of lemon. You will probably need to add more water to thin it out.
To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro or parsley in a mixing bowl. Either add the tahini dressing to taste, and toss carefully, or you could serve the salad with the dressing on the side. Serve immediately. (Note: I served this salad at room temperature and made all the components in advance).
Roasted Eggplant, Hummus, and Feta Pizza
- whole wheat pizza dough (could also use prepared crust but adjust cooking time)
- 1 eggplant
- 1-2 clove garlic
- Salt, Pepper, red pepper flakes, Olive oil
- optional: wilted spinach
- low fat feta cheese
- homemade or store bought hummus
For the roasted eggplant (can be done in advance): Preheat oven to 425 (note, this is the same temp as the squash above so you can do it in the same oven!). Slice eggplant into 1/4-1/2 inch slices and toss with some olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Spread into one layer on a sprayed roasting pan and pop in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until eggplant is tender and browned (will vary based on thickness).
For the Pizza: preheat oven to 425 with pizza stone in the oven. Roll out pizza dough as thin as possible and transfer to hot pizza stone. Cook for 5-7 minutes so crust begins to cook. Pull out stone and spread pizza with hummus, wilted (cooked) spinach, eggplant slices, and top with crumbled feta. Return to the oven for about 5 more minutes or until crust is cooked through. Enjoy!!