Nov 21, 2008

Eggplant Piccolino’s

I had so much fun when I made this recipe for the first time. Probably the sneakiness behind it all. It’s sad though, having to stoop to sneaking vegetables into your kid’s diet!

I think I mentioned my munchkin going through a crazy pizza phase lately? He used to be a great eater. The kid would eat anything you’d dangle in front of him, but lately he’ll only jump up when he hears the word pizza. Aside from bread, meat or poultry because he eats plenty of that.

It resulted in loads of home made pizzas (made with whole wheat flour), low fat pizza sauce spiked with carrot puree, and the whole shebang topped with more vegetables and a little cheese. My ‘Breakfast Pizza Muffins‘ also helped – so did countless other dishes I just label pizza quietly hoping he won’t turn his nose up on it. I know, I know … it’s bad. What can I say? I just like duping the kid. Really, don’t feel sorry for him, he had it coming!

Lately it’s just taking me all my creativity (and then some) to get the kiddo to just eat vegetables. I guess it’s the everlasting parental curse struggle. You just can’t force-feed them (hmmmm, guess I really can’t, huh? Bummer). But the times I get away with it and watch him polish off 5 of these piccolino’s -which is Italian for ‘little one’– are extra fun. It just fills me with glee that I’ve managed to outsmart him once again. I don’t need much to feel really good about myself, I guess.

I really like how you can create something so fun and tasty with only a few simple and basic ingredients.


tomato sauce
1 ball mozzarella
1/3 bell pepper
1/2 onion
dried basil


If he could live on lollipops alone, he would. Tough luck, kid. Don’t mess with mom! No matter how cute a face you’ve got, you’ll lose … big time! :)

Wash the eggplant, or Aubergines as they’re called on my side of the pond. Give it a good scrub since we’re leaving the skin on. You could peel the eggplant if you’d really want to, but why would you? The skin contains a lot of vitamins!

Disclaimer: I really can’t help it, whenever I wash my vegetables while doing a photo posting, I just have to give an artistic twist to it. Veggies, fruit & water are a match made in photographers heaven!

Slice the eggplant in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. You can also slice it length-ways, but well, they wouldn’t be piccolino’s anymore then!

Transfer them to a colander and sprinkle a generous amount of salt on top.

Meanwhile, back at the cutting board, finely chop 1/2 a medium or a very small onion.

Wash and finely chop a bell pepper. I’m leaving the skin on this time.

Also cut the mozzarella in tiny cubes. Mozzarella isn’t extremely caloric in and of itself, plus you can use a low fat version, making the recipe tasty yet relatively low fat.

Preheat your oven, grill or broiler, crank it up as far as your oven allows you.

Heat a tiny drop of oil in a large skillet and sautee the onions. Wait until the onions are translucent and add the bell pepper. Cook everything for 3 more minutes before transferring it to a bowl. I cheated and spiked it with a little Lawry’s garlic salt (Sorry to all the Dutchies among you!)

Now you can add an extra drop of oil, but there was still plenty of oil in my skillet. Put the eggplant slices in there and cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Flip them over and cook the other side for 2 to 3 minutes as well.

Sprinkle a little pepper on top.

You can use any kind of commercial (pizza) tomato sauce for this. I always thaw some of my own pizza sauce that I freeze in small portions. I know what went into it, know it contains vegetables and that it’s low fat. That way I don’t have to open a bottle of perishable sauce for only a few drops. I really dislike throwing away food.

Just spoon a bit on top of the slices and use the round side of the spoon to spread the pizza sauce. Spoon a little of the onion & bell pepper mix on top of each slice as well.

Layer a small handful mozzarella cubes on top and sprinkle everything with some grated parmesan (sorry to all food snobs, I’ve used pre-grated Parmesan, the Dutch equivalent of Kraft:) and finish the piccolino’s with some dried basil or oregano.

Now pop them in a really hot oven and let the cheese melt and turn slightly brown. This should only take a few minutes so stay nearby.

After they came out of the oven, I took one bite and was completely sold. I tell you, it’s really not just kid’s food! They’re really, really good. Especially when you eat them for lunch and throw in some crispy whole wheat bread as well.

Score? 1-0 for the self-proclaimed tulip queen! :)

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    1. 1

      this looks amazing!
      im planning to cook for my boyfriend all day tomorrow, and i think i’ll do this for dinner :)
      thanks :)

      Raj on Nov 21, 2008 @ 10:44 am Reply
    2. 2

      Oh this looks so good! Eggplant is my favorite! My kids will not eat it but I am thinking they might eat this :) Can’t wait to make it.

      Sarah S. on Nov 21, 2008 @ 5:08 pm Reply
    3. 3

      Sarah, I’m usually the only one who likes eggplant around here, but now they all ate it :)

      Kay on Nov 21, 2008 @ 9:25 pm Reply
    4. 4

      Let me know if you like it, Raj!

      Kay on Nov 21, 2008 @ 9:25 pm Reply
    5. 5

      You made me put eggplant on my list for today!

      Ann from Montana on Nov 22, 2008 @ 2:25 pm Reply
    6. 6

      I have a 2 year old piccolina who is the exact same. Too cute for her own good and would live on daddy’s pizza! These look fab, I do a similar one, your photos are so vibrant! I wish I was a computer nerd;)

      lorraine@italianfoodies on Nov 22, 2008 @ 7:05 pm Reply
    7. 7

      I cannot wait to try eggplant this way. I think I will use marina sauce instead of pizza sauce. What a terrific appetizer for any party.

      Doreen from Virginia on Nov 23, 2008 @ 10:09 pm Reply
    8. 8

      You made my day, I so very much miss pizza (they’re too big and the smaller ones have too much dough). I thought about making some at home by making my own lighter dough, but this looks like it will work much better!

      I did some googling and found out you can also freeze fried aubergine (I cannot eat an entire aubergine….) so I think I’ll try this out, and freeze a bunch of them at the part just before you add the cheese. That way, I’ll have little mini pizzas ready for some fresh extra ingredients in the freezer, any time I want to.

      I’m getting all excited now, and normally I don’t even like aubergine… ;)

      Tannie on Nov 25, 2008 @ 6:15 am Reply
    9. 9

      This will be so perfect for you, Tannie! Hmmmm didn’t even know you could freeze it, have to try it. Will be so easy to just pop a few under the grill.

      Kay on Nov 25, 2008 @ 8:52 am Reply
    10. 10

      These look delicious!!! I will be trying them!!!!!!!!!!

      Kath on Nov 25, 2008 @ 5:09 pm Reply
    11. 11

      These look amazing! I can’t wait to try them. They almost make me hope the kids *won’t* like them so I won’t have to share! LOL!

      Teresa on Nov 28, 2008 @ 10:52 pm Reply
    12. 12

      I just made them, consumed them, and YUM! I will definitely be making these again! Thanks for the great recipe~

      Jana on Nov 30, 2008 @ 7:03 am Reply
    13. 13

      I made these today for a dinner party appetizer. They look awesome and smell terrific. My only concern is will they with stand the moving from my cookie sheet to a serving platter. I cut the slices they same as yours.
      I wonder if I let them stand a few minutes before transferring…they might be OK

      I cannot wait to serve them.

      Doreen from Virginia on Dec 5, 2008 @ 10:52 pm Reply
    14. 14

      These are great. They have become my favorite way to eat eggplant. Absolutely delicious!

      gelato521 on Feb 9, 2010 @ 2:12 am Reply
    15. 15

      I’d be willing to bet Kay could make Puppy Chow look really tasty.LOL

      Jack on Apr 4, 2010 @ 7:11 am Reply
    16. 16

      Vegetables on top of vegetables with cheese,I’m hooked

      Jack on Apr 4, 2010 @ 7:14 am Reply
    17. 17

      My husband loved those things! He’s on a diet so I baked instead of fried the eggplants and put just a little cheese. He said he really felt like he was having pizza and liked not feeling guilty about it.

      I put the recipe on my very new cooking blog and credited you as the genius source of this great idea:)

      Please please keep the incredibly yummy recipes coming:)

      Nevine on Jun 4, 2011 @ 8:55 pm Reply
    18. 18

      I just found this on Pinterest, and I can’t wait to try it out.  We will be having this for dinner tonight.  Thank you for the wonderful recipe and detailed directions.

      Allison on Jan 14, 2012 @ 5:37 pm Reply

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