Eddie made Eggplant Involtini from “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook” tonight. I threw in a rainbow chard, arugula, currant and French radish salad with red wine vinaigrette. I think we both discovered a whole new reason to love eggplant.
The recipe below is the original with instructions. Contrary to what they outline you can make this with the fat free ricotta and much less oil if your diet requires it. We also dramatically reduced the amount of Romano in the dish for similar health reasons. The result was, however, amazing.
- 2 large eggplants (1 1/2 pounds each), peeled
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved, chopped coarse
- 1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
- 8 ounces (1 cup) whole-milk ricotta cheese – used part skim
- 1 1/2 ounces grated Pecorino Romano cheese (3/4 cup) – used only a small amount of Parmesan for an accent
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Slice each eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick planks (you should have 12 planks). Trim rounded surface from each end piece so it lies flat.
- Adjust 1 oven rack to lower-middle position and second rack 8 inches from broiler element. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and spray generously with vegetable oil spray. Arrange eggplant slices in single layer on prepared sheets. Brush 1 side of eggplant slices with 2 1/2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Flip eggplant slices and brush with 2 1/2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake until tender and lightly browned, 30 to 35 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cool for 5 minutes. Using thin spatula, flip each slice over. Heat broiler.
- While eggplant cooks, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch broiler-safe skillet over medium-low heat until just shimmering. Add garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and their juice. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Cover and set aside.
- Pulse bread in food processor until finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses. Combine bread crumbs, ricotta, 1/2 cup Pecorino, 1/4 cup basil, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl.
- With widest ends of eggplant slices facing you, evenly distribute ricotta mixture on bottom third of each slice. Gently roll up each eggplant slice and place seam side down in tomato sauce.
- Bring sauce to simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until eggplant is well browned and cheese is heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Pecorino and let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon basil and serve.
- Bake, Don’t Fry
- We trade the salting, breading, and frying steps that classic recipes employ for a lighter, no-fuss approach.
- SLICE: Lay each peeled eggplant on its side and slice it lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick planks (you should have 12 planks).
- BAKE: Brush both sides of slices with oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake until tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
- STUFF AND ROLL: With widest end facing you, place portion of ricotta mixture on bottom third of slice. Roll into cylinder.
- Bread Crumbs: Outside to Inside
In most involtini recipes bread crumbs are used to coat the eggplant, but in our version we put them in the cheese. The bread crumbs keep the filling creamy by preventing the Pecorino Romano proteins from linking tightly.