I’m always so tickled to see a traditional comfort dish — which might be a bit heavy — turned into something light and lovely and easy to be enjoyed everyday. Molly’s done a fine job of morphing this classic casserole into ideal potluck fare. The trick is roasting the eggplant; it pulls out the caramelized, earthy notes. I opt to roast veggies and even fruit whenever I want a deeper flavor and, in some cases, a more natural sweetness. Enjoy this easy-to-love meal.
Eggplant Rollatini is one of my favorite dishes. I’m a sucker for all things Italian, but this one really hits the mark. It has my top three ingredients: eggplant, ricotta, and marinara sauce. However, it’s typically labor-intensive and not such a healthy choice, so I hardly ever make it. Well, not anymore, folks.
Traditionally, eggplant slices are fried before being layered up with voluminous amounts of cheese. Here, however, I’ve lightened things up by roasting the eggplant, making for a delicious and slightly healthier dish. I’ve also let the creamy ricotta filling have the star moment, simply topping the eggplant with a bit of marinara, fresh herbs, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
My girlfriends and I have a monthly potluck tradition which is a wonderful excuse for some good food and good laughs. The host takes care of the main, and the rest bring sides, salad, and dessert to round out the meal. This past month, we planned on an Italian feast. Eggplant Rollatini was my contribution.
Whether you’re making this for a potluck or a lucky friend, this is an easy dish to pack up and transport. Simply wrap the dish in parchment, folding to enclose, then tie with baker’s or butcher’s twine. Pack up a few springs of parsley and basil in some dampened paper towels to chop up just before serving. And don’t forget the extra parmesan cheese!
A Lighter Eggplant Rollatini
Serves: 4 to 6
- 3 medium/large eggplants, trimmed
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 ounces fresh ricotta
- 6 ounces (about 1 small ball) fresh mozzarella, grated
- 2 large eggs
- 1 handful parsley, leaves roughly chopped, plus more for serving
- 1 handful basil, leaves roughly chopped, plus more for serving
- 1 jar marinara sauce (I love Rao’s classic marinara)
- Grated parmesan cheese, for serving
- Heat the oven to 450ºF. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Save the small, outer slices for another use. Spread the eggplant across 2 baking sheets. Drizzle olive oil generously on each side, rubbing it in as you go, and season well with salt and pepper. Roast until golden and crisp, about 12 to 15 minutes per side. Lower the heat to 350ºF.
- Meanwhile, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, eggs, and chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Spread about 1/3 of the marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9-x13-inch baking dish.
- Place a generous spoonful of the ricotta mixture into the center of each eggplant slice and roll up to make a bundle. Place seam-side down. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Spoon remaining marinara sauce over the eggplant.
- Bake until the cheese and sauce are bubbling, about 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan and freshly chopped parsley and basil. Serve with extra parmesan on the side.
- If transporting, cool to room temperature, then wrap in parchment and tie with baker’s twine for transport. Pack up a handful of parsley and basil in cold, damp paper towels and a small tub of grated parmesan, for serving.
- When ready to eat, reheat the eggplant, uncovered, in a 350ºF oven until heated through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan and freshly chopped parsley and basil. Serve with extra parmesan on the side.
- Baker's twine
- Fresh basil and parsley
- Wrap the cooled casserole in parchment to enclose and tie it together with twine.
- Place a few sprigs of fresh herbs in a dampened paper towel for serving.
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