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California Pizza Kitchen Grilled Eggplant Cheeseless Pizza

By Todd Wilbur

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  • $0.79

When PepsiCo shelled out $100 million for a 67 percent share of the trendy pizza chain back in 1992, founders Lawrence Flax and Richard Rosenfield thought they had it made. Unfortunately, the company behind Pizza Hut found expanding the more upscale eatery an unfamiliar struggle. The company expanded too quickly, and as costs began to dwarf sales figures, fresh ingredients were replace with cheaper frozen products. Customers noticed and sales took a nosedive. By 1996, PepsiCo decided to bail out.

The following year, PepsiCo's share of the chain was picked up by New York investment firm Rosser, Sherrill and Co. Fresh ingredients returned to the kitchens, and the size of the pizzas was increased without adjusting the price. Sales once again blossomed, and the chain was on its way back to turning its first profit since 1991.

Here's a great pizza to clone if you need to take a little time off from delicious-yet-fat-filled mozzarella cheese. With the marinated, grilled eggplant and tasty honey-wheat dough, you won't even miss that gooey white stuff. Be sure to start this one a day before you plan to eat it. The dough needs that long to rise in the fridge for just the right California Pizza Kitchen-like taste.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size–3 slices
Total servings–2
Calories per serving–380
Fat per serving–8g

Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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Honey-Wheat Dough
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 2/3 cup bread flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 eggplant, sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/4 medium red onion, sliced into thin rings (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped into thin strips
  • 1/3 cup reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into strips (see Tidbits)
  • Fat-free vinaigrette
  • Do This
    • Restaurant/Brand
      California Pizza Kitchen
    • Instructions

      1. Prepare the pizza dough by combining the water with the honey and yeast in a small bowl or measuring cup. Stir until the yeast is dissolved, then let the mixture sit for 5 minutes until the surface turns foamy. Sift the flours and salt together in a medium bowl. Make a depression in the flour and pour the olive oil and yeast mixture into it. Use a fork or spoon to stir the liquid, gradually drawing in more flour as you stir, until all the ingredients are combined. At this point you will have to use your hands to blend the dough until it is smooth and to form it into a ball. Knead the dough with the heels of your hands on lightly floured surface for 10 minutes or until the texture of the dough is smooth and elastic. Form the dough back into a ball, coat it lightly with oil, and place it in a clean bowl covered with plastic wrap. Keep the dough in a warm place for about 2 hours to allow the dough to double in size. Punch the dough down and put it back into the covered bowl and into the refrigerator overnight. Take the dough from the refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before you plan to build the pizza so that the dough can warm up to room temperature.

      2. When you're ready to make your pizza, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. If you have a pizza stone, now's the time to use it.

      3. Preheat barbecue grill to high temperature.

      4. Combine the soy sauce with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and cumin in a small bowl.

      5. Brush the entire surface of each eggplant slice with this soy sauce mixture. Make sure you have some left over.

      6. Grill the eggplant slices for 2 to 3 minutes per side, then remove them from the grill to cool.

      7. On a lightly floured surface, form the pizza dough into a circle with an approximately 10-inch diameter. Be sure to form a lip around the edge.

      8. Brush the top surface of the pizza dough with the remaining soy sauce mixture.

      9. Arrange the red onion slices over the pizza dough.

      10. The eggplant slices go on the pizza next, then toss the pizza into the oven on a pizza pan, or directly onto a pizza stone. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the crust is light brown and crispy. Pop any bubbles in the crust that may form as the pizza bakes.

      11. Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle cilantro over the top.

      12. Slice the pizza into 6 even slices with a sharp pizza wheel.

      13. Sprinkle the thinly chopped spinach over the top of the pizza.

      14. Sprinkle the sun-dried tomato strips over the top.

      15. Serve pizza with the optional vinaigrette on the side.

      Makes 1 10-inch pizza

      Tidbits: Heat a couple cups of water to boiling in the microwave. Add 6 to 8 sun-dried tomato slices to the water and let them sit for about 1/2 hour. Remove the slices and drain on paper towels until you need them.

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