I finally branched out from our standby Poppi’s Anatolia and had myself an ethereal pizza experience for lunch (and leftovers for dinner) in Eugene today. For months friends have said we had to try the legendary, vegan-friendly Pizza Research Institute. My meal today confirmed the hype. Since it was no more expensive I sprang for the Chef’s Choice, a colorful mandala-like collage of 12-14 fresh toppings arranged on your pie. Today, this taste sensation included curried cauliflower, sweet carmelized eggplant, preserved peaches, grilled zucchini and piped florettes of ricotta. The zesty crust was flecked with herbs. Unusual homemade condiments–a coconut curry habanero sauce, a honey chipotle lime hot sauce–were on hand to dip your crust handles into. I started with a small simple salad, studded with toasted sunflower and black sesame seeds, dressed with a garlicky buttermilk poppy seed dressing recipe I’d love to obtain.
Especially revelatory was the candied eggplant topping. I mistook it for some type of piquant dried fruit. It made me want to try out a recipe for eggplant jam, such as the one Linda Ziedrich includes The Joy of Jams, Jellies. I’ll also definitely have eggplant the next time I’m at PRI. The chef recommended the chevre, marinated eggplant & carmelized onions pizza for next time. Next time indeed!