Living in the Japanese countryside came with many perks: picturesque rice fields, dreamy sakura carpets, untouched fairy-tale snow, and bountiful summer produce. In fact, I clearly recall one day collectively receiving 20 eggplants (yes, twenty!) and 14 tomatoes from my neighbors and colleagues. With a sack full of veggies on my hands, I was forced to get creative and creative I got.
Japanese eggplants (なす, nasu) are usually longer and thinner (averaging 20-25cm in length) than the eggplants you may be used to (those, for some reason, are called ‘American eggplants’ in Japan even though it’s not sure whether they’re actually coming from the US). And while the Japanese nasu are slenderer in shape, they share the same plentiful nutritional benefits of their pear-shaped cousins. In truth, the purple fruit (yes, they’re actually a fruit!) are considered by many as a ‘superfood’ and vegetarians and vegans consider them a substantial meat-substitute.
For a deliciously healthy, quick, and low-carb snack or meal, try these Japanese eggplant pizza bites.
- 2 large Japanese eggplants, sliced into 1/2 inch-thick rounds
- 2 pinches of course salt
- Cooking spray
- 1/4 cup pizza sauce
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (use dairy-free cheese for a vegan diet)
- Your favorite pizza toppings, chopped small (I used tomatoes, onion, capsicum and corn)
- Preheat oven to 180C
- Place eggplants on a lined tray and season generously with salt – this helps draw out the excess water
- Prep your pizza toppings: chop, slice etc.
- Check your eggplants, if the excess liquid has surfaced, using a paper towel pat them dry — this will also get rid of the excess salt.
- Lightly spray both sides of the eggplant rounds with cooking spray.
- Bake eggplants for 5-7 minutes each side, until golden and tender (but not mushy)
- When ready, remove eggplant rounds from the oven and get ready for making your pizza
- Top with sauce, cheese, toppings, and cheese again.
- Bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starting to turn gold. Enjoy! Xx