Roasted eggplant rounds act as pizza crust, topped with fresh mozzarella, mushrooms, and spinach. An easy, lower carb, and gluten-free option, these eggplant pizza bites are ideal as a vegetarian side, for lunch, or as a snack!
I like classic pizza--crust and all--as much as the next person, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But these easy eggplant pizza bites are a fun idea to try when you’re craving pizza but need something on the lighter side that doesn’t take too much effort to prepare.
Here, tender roasted eggplant rounds act as pizza crust. And when it comes to choosing eggplant pizza toppings, the possibilities are endless! I kept mine vegetarian this time…
Eggplant Pizza Toppings
It’s never a bad idea to raid your fridge for things to use as toppings for your eggplant pizza. Here is what I ended up using:
- Marinara sauce. Store-bought sauce is great here, unless you have a cup of homemade spaghetti sauce to use up. I prefer a smooth marinara to a chunky one for this particular recipe because I want the cheese and chunky toppings to mound on a smooth surface. I don’t want each layer vying for attention! The end result should appear vibrant, juicy, savory, and contained.
- Cheese. I prefer fresh mozzarella which has a delicate, clean flavor with a soft, milky texture and melts perfectly on these small bites! The two most common types of mozzarella fresco are the traditional fior di latte (made with cow’s milk) and mozzarella di bufala, which is made with the milk of water buffalo. The latter is a bit tangier and sweeter than the fior di latte, and both work well for this recipe!
- Mushrooms and Spinach. A handful of baby spinach and any small mushrooms you have on hand (white mushrooms or baby bella mushrooms) will work well here. I cook the mushrooms until they reach a golden brown hue and then toss in the spinach just long enough to wilt. Next, a dash of kosher salt. Each vegetable provides a tender bite that doesn't compete with one another. The same goes with the slightly sweet and earthy aroma you get while cooking.
Other topping options: You can totally make this eggplant pizza recipe your own by changing up the toppings. Add a handful of cherry tomatoes or olives. Try a different combination of veggies like bell peppers, zucchini and onions. Or go for a margarita pizza with mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, and basil. So many options!
Now let’s move onto the meat of this recipe, which, in this case, is a fruit: the eggplant.
How to select a good eggplant?
First, let’s talk about the type of eggplant you need for this recipe. The obvious and most convenient choice is globe eggplant, which is readily available in most supermarkets all year round. It is also larger and will give you nice-sized rounds to work with. The next step in selecting a good eggplant is to give it a good onceover. It should be heavy for its size (smaller globe eggplants are known to have less seeds and taste less bitter than larger ones) Examine skin, it should be shiny, tight, and unblemished. I like to give the eggplant a gentle squeeze to feel for any dents or soft spots. The stem should be green; if it’s browning or developing mold, it’s time to be discarded.
When you cut into the eggplant, the flesh should be white with tan to brown colored spots around the seeds. If there is more brown than white flesh, it is spoiling and needs to be thrown out.
And remember, if you don’t plan to use the eggplant within 2 days of purchasing, put it whole in the refrigerator, and use it within 7 days.
Should you peel eggplant before roasting?
Eggplant skin is incredibly nutritious, loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. I prefer to keep the skin on when I roast eggplant for this reason — not to mention it’s a gorgeous color to boot! But in the end, it’s really a matter of preference. Sometimes the skin can be a little tough, especially in larger eggplant. If you buy one on the smaller side, you’ll find the young, nutrient-rich skin will more likely be tender.
Should you salt eggplant before roasting?
This is a hotly debated topic, and it is really an optional step. But, whether I’m making eggplant caponata, eggplant lasagna casserole, or something as simple as today's roasted eggplant pizza recipe, I do try to salt my eggplant first and allow it some time to “sweat.”
I recommend salting the eggplant slices as the result is a more flavorful dish. The salt also helps break down eggplant's spongy texture a bit, giving the eggplant pizza a tender, meatier bite.
Here’s how to salt eggplant: Slice the eggplant into rounds. Sprinkle with kosher salt and arrange on paper towels. This allows the eggplant to sweat out its moisture for a few minutes. Make sure to dab the slices dry before roasting.
How to make Eggplant Pizza Bites with Spinach and Mushroom
(You can scroll down to the print-friendly version with the complete ingredient list).
- Slice and salt the eggplant
Make sure you cut the eggplant rounds thick ( ½-inch) so you get a creamy interior with a charred exterior. If they’re too thin, they’ll just burn. As I mentioned, salting is an optional step, but if you have the time, sprinkle the eggplant with a good pinch of kosher salt (about 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons or so) and allow it time to set for about 20 minutes while you work on the rest of the ingredients. Beads of water will appear on the surface. When ready, wipe the eggplant dry and make sure to wipe any excess salt off.
- Bake the Eggplant
Grab a large, sturdy sheet pan or two (you want to have enough room to spread the eggplant rounds in one single layer). Brush the sheet pan/s with olive oil and arrange the eggplant slices on top. Brush the top of the eggplant with a generous amount of olive oil. Bake in a 425 degrees F heated-oven for about 20 minutes, turning the eggplant slices over once midway through. (The eggplant should soften and turn a beautiful golden brown)
- Prepare the Mushroom and Spinach Topping
While the eggplant is roasting, sauté the mushrooms in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil of a good 5 minutes, tossing regularly (the mushrooms should release excess water and gain some color). Stir in the baby spinach and toss until it wilts. Season with a pinch of kosher salt.
- Add sauce and cheese and broil
Remove the eggplant from the oven when it’s ready, keeping it on the sheet pan still, top each eggplant slice with a tablespoon of marinara sauce (spread the sauce well), add a slice of fresh mozzarella on top. Turn the broiler on and return the pan to top rack of the oven (about 6-inches or so away from the broiler). Cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, watching carefully (you’re just looking for the cheese to melt)
- Assemble the eggplant pizza bites
Remove the eggplant from the oven (you won’t need the oven anymore at this point). Divide the mushroom and spinach mixture over the eggplant slices. Voilà!
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Eggplant Pizza Bites Recipe with Spinach and Mushrooms
- Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Season the eggplant with kosher salt on both sides (I used about 1 teaspoon). If you have the time, set the eggplant aside and let it “sweat” for about 20 to 30 minutes then wipe off the beads of water and any excess salt. If you don’t have the time, you can season the eggplant lightly with kosher salt and move on to the next step.
- Prepare a large sheet pan and brush it with extra virgin olive oil. Arrange the eggplant slices in one single layer. Brush the top of each eggplant slice generously with extra virgin olive oil.
- Bake on the middle rack of your heated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the eggplant has softened, turning over halfway through.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat about 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, tossing regularly until they gain some color. Stir in the spinach briefly until it wilts. Season with a little bit of kosher salt.
- When the eggplant is ready, take it out of the oven and top each eggplant slice with 1 tablespoon of marinara sauce and 1 slice of fresh mozzarella.
- Turn the oven to broil and return the sheet pan to the oven. Broil very briefly watching for the cheese to melt (about 1 to 2 minutes).
- Remove the eggplant from the oven. Arrange the mushroom and spinach mixture over the eggplant slices. Enjoy!
- It's important to slice the eggplant into thicker rounds (about ½-inch slices) so that they do not burn in the oven and also so that they provide a sturdy base for your toppings.
- Change up the toppings! Add a handful of cherry tomatoes or olives. Or go for a margarita pizza with mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, and basil. Try a different combination of veggies like bell peppers, zucchini and onions.
- Visit our Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oils, spices and more.