Here's the thing about pizza. I know the pepperoni and cheese crowd is going to disagree with me here, but I truly believe that as long as you start with quality ingredients, you can top a pizza with *almost* anything and end up with something delicious. That's why on pizza night at our house I like to experiment with my toppings, especially when it comes to veggies, and I especially love using whatever is at peak season. We're rounding out a hot summer here in Southern California, and the key ingredients to Ratatouille (that amazing rustic French dish of eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, and tomato) abound. I've done Ratatouille Pasta before (peep that recipe here), but I was feeling pizza, so here we are, and oh, what a delicious place to be.
Packed with absolutely gorgeous veggies and a combo of both mozzarella and goat cheese, along with a sprinkle of my Herbes de Provence, this might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of making pizza, but it promises to be one you'll return to again and again.
One note: I've used King Arthur Baking Company's method for skillet pizza here, but you could easily alter this recipe to use your own favorite pizza-making method. I just love how the edges of the pie get all crispy in a cast iron skillet. It's such a nice juxtaposition of texture to all the veggies on this pie.
Enough waxing poetic about pizza texture. Let's get cooking, shall we?
Ratatouille Skillet Pizza
Makes one 12-inch pizza
Extra virgin olive oil
1 batch homemade or store-bought pizza dough
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
1 medium eggplant, diced into 1/2-inch cubes (you want about 1 cup)
1 medium zucchini, diced into 1/2-inch cubes (you want about 1 cup)
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced into 1/2-inch pieces (you want about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup homemade or store-bought marinara sauce
1 medium shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 big handful of fresh basil, torn into small pieces
About 2 hours before you want to eat, place about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet, and use your fingers to rub the oil all over the bottom and up the sides of the skillet. Turn the pizza dough out into the oiled skillet and turn to coat it in olive oil. Use your fingers to spread the dough out to cover the entire skillet. Cover the skillet with a clean, dry towel and allow to rest.
About 45 minutes before you want to eat, preheat the oven to 450F with a rack placed in the lower third of the oven.
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Toss the diced eggplant in just enough olive oil so that it is coated but not soaked and sprinkle with a big pinch of Herbes de Provence. Saute the eggplant in the skillet until just tender and starting to brown. Transfer the eggplant to a large bowl and repeat the process with the zucchini and bell pepper. The cooked veggies can all go in the same big bowl, but it is best to cook them separately so they don't just end up as mush. Mix any remaining Herbes de Provence into the marinara sauce.
Uncover the cast iron skillet and use your fingers to press the dough out if it has shrunk at all. Sprinkle all but a small handful of mozzarella over the dough, covering the entire surface, including the edges. Use a spoon to drop dollops of sauce over the cheese. Don't worry about spreading the sauce around; it will spread as the pizza bakes and the cheese melts. Next sprinkle the pizza with the sliced shallot and minced garlic, followed by the sauteed vegetables, then the torn basil, then the remaining mozzarella, then the crumbled goat cheese.
Place the skillet in the oven on the lower rack and bake 18-20 minutes. Check the crust to see if it has started to develop into a nice golden brown color. If it has, move the skillet to the top rack and continue baking until the top is bubbly and starting to brown, about 5 more minutes. If the crust isn't golden brown yet, give it another 3-5 minutes before moving it up.
Remove the skillet from the oven and use a spatula to transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Slice into 6-8 slices and enjoy!!