No Egg Eggplant Rollatini
Since the majority of my recipes on my blog are photographed on the weekend, I already had a post planned for today. But when I picked this homegrown bounty on Saturday morning I changed my mind. We are blessed with so much amazing produce at the moment that each meal has turned into a celebration of the harvest.
The eggplants are doing really well and I think I am going to have lots of them this year. In honor of this beautiful veg, I’m sharing with you a soul food recipe that we really adore.
When we were in Venice we had lunches at small restaurants that served gluten free meals. At one of such restaurant, I had eggplant rollatini. I wasn’t familiar with this dish and the name sounded very fancy. When I saw it, the presentation looked really good. It was like little cannolis with creamy ricotta and the sauce they sat in was equally delicious. I really enjoyed it.
Eggplant rollatini is a pasta free lasagna dish which offers the irresistible flavor of the traditional version. It is a comforting and filling dish, but still light enough for warmer weather. Although, I ‘ve noticed that while most eggplant rollatini recipes use fried eggplant strips and are heavy on the cheese, I lightened up mine by baking them and adding veggies to the stuffing. Remember my stuffed pasta shells? No? Ok, well, I basically used the same stuffing. Even if you love the fried version with a lot of cheese I think you should give this recipe a try. You won’t regret it! There is no egg in my recipe so strict vegetarians can truly enjoy it as well. It’s also pretty easy to veganize. You can substitute tofu in place of paneer and vegan cheese for mozzarella and parmesan.
I would recommend making the marinara sauce and paneer stuffing ( I made my own paneer) a day or two in advance. That way you can simply roast the eggplant slices and then assemble the rolls when you’re ready to serve. If you need to save some extra time, try a store-bought marinara sauce. To make perfect eggplant rollups, eggplant should be sliced into very thin 1/8″-1/4″ slices. You can do this by hand or use a mandolin slicer. To draw all the water out of the eggplant so you don’t end up with water lasagna, the sliced eggplant is first roasted in the oven for 5-7 minutes. This step also helps soften it and make it easier for rolling. If your eggplant slices are 1/4″ thick, bake them for 8-10 minutes. Once they are softened, put a spoonful of filling close to the straight end of the strip and gently roll. Place them in a single layer in a baking dish with marinara sauce underneath, and some grated cheese on top.
It’s a tasty dish for impressing vegetarian/ gluten free guests, and especially those who simply love fresh summer vegetables. We enjoyed ours with pasta as I had leftover marinara sauce.
Stay tuned for more recipes using garden fresh vegetables.
- 1 eggplant, sliced into 1/8-inch slices lengthwise
- 1 cup homemade or store-bought paneer, grated
- 1/3 cup carrot, thinly sliced into small pieces
- 1/3 cup broccoli, chopped small
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Salt and, black pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 cup parmesan
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder
- 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- Salt to taste
- To make marinara sauce, heat 2 tsp oil in a pan, add garlic, and sauté until fragrant and bubbles start to form around garlic, 30-60 seconds. Stir in crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with salt and red chili powder. Set aside.
- For the rollatini, place paneer in a bowl.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small pan. Sauté garlic and onion. Add broccoli and carrot. Cook them until just tender. Remove from heat.
- Add cooked vegetable to paneer along with salt, pepper ,parmesan, and 1/2 of basil. Mix and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Cut the 2 ends off the eggplants. Cut eggplant lengthwise, into 1/8" inch thick slices until you have a total of 16 slices about the same size. It’s easiest to do this with a mandolin.
- Brush eggplant slices with remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then arrange on two parchment-lined baking sheets.
- Bake until eggplant is tender and pliable but not fully cooked, about 5 minutes (mine was homegrown it took less time but store bought can take more).
- Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish.
- Place a heaping tablespoon of paneer filling on wider end of eggplant slice and roll eggplant closed around filling. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices and filling (You can overlap the smaller ones and make 14 slices).
- Place eggplant rolls in dish, spoon a tbsp of marinara sauce on each rollatini and top with mozzarella cheese.
- Cover and bake until the eggplant is very tender, and cheese has melted, about 15-20 minutes (Remove foil after 10 minutes and bake uncovered).
- Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.