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.
1 ball mozzarella
1/3 bell pepper
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! :)