The other night my boy Darren and I were talking about where to get the best pizza in the neighborhood when he mentioned an old pizza joint that he loved that put sesame seeds in the crust. I’m not sure what else he said, because by that time my brain had already come up with a handful of toppings for said sesame crust. Asian-inspired? Mediterranean? How about Middle Eastern? I ended up combining a few and came up with this gem.
I used Joy the Baker’s version of Jim Lahey’s no knead pizza dough, subbing spelt flour for the whole wheat, and of course adding sesame seeds. Then I grilled some eggplant slices on my grill pan (it’s gotten a bit cold to grill outside – not that I have anywhere to grill outside…), added feta cheese and thin garlic slices. Straight out of the oven I added fresh cilantro and a dukkah-like seed/spice blend. If you’ve never had dukkah, you’re really missing out! Two of my favorite food bloggers have recipes for it here and here. I totally dig it with a hunk of crusty artisan bread dunked in olive oil, then into the dukkah. With this recipe, though, I simplified – and made a not-quite-traditional version to sprinkle over the pizza for extra flavor. Don’t leave it off or you’ll be sorry!
Also, this crust recipe uses a decent amount of yeast which makes it rise during cooking. Keep this in mind, and if you’re not a huge fan of thick doughy crust, roll it out really thin. And sine it makes enough for two pizzas, you can freeze or refrigerate the extra dough and make a super quick easy dinner later on.
2 3/4 c. bread flour
1 c. spelt flour
2 1/2 tsp. dry active yeast
3/4 tsp. fine grain sea salt
3/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 small eggplant, sliced in 1/4″ to 1/2 ” slices
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
2-3 oz. crumbled feta
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced as thinly as you can get ‘em
2 T. pine nuts
1 T.sesame seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. sea salt
a big handful of cilantro, chopped
Combine the flours, yeast, salt, sugar and 1/4 c. seeds in a large bowl. Pour the water over and stir until it all comes together into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 2 hours.
Lay the eggplant slices out in a colander and sprinkle 1 tsp. salt over them. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to drain the excess water.
At least 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 and place a baking stone, or an upside down baking sheet in there to heat up.
Pat the eggplant pieces dry and coat them in a thin layer of olive oil. Lay them out on a grill pan (or in a skillet if you don’t have a grill pan) and cook them for 10 minutes until they get nice brown marks. Set aside.
Lay a piece of parchment out on your work surface, and with wet hands, transfer the dough onto it. Divide the dough in half and wrap the half you’re not using in plastic wrap. Put it in a plastic bag and into the fridge or freezer, depending on how long you need it to keep. Take the other half and roll it out using a flour dusted rolling pin. Remember, keep it extra thin because it will rise more in the oven.
Top the pizza with more olive oil, the eggplant slices, garlic slices, and the crumbled feta. Transfer the pizza, parchment and all, to the baking stone/sheet in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set.
While the pizza’s in the oven, toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet for about 1 minute, then add the sesame seeds and all the rest of the seeds. Toast for another 2 minutes, until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and lightly crush.
Slide the pizza out of the oven and slice. Top with the cilantro and the crushed seeds and serve.