Eggplant Involtini

 For those of you that love your veggies, you will be in heaven with this dish.

It's a vegeterian {and gulten- free} riff on the traditional stuffed ravioli.  Instead of stuffing pasta, you're stuffing baked or grilled slices of eggplant.  The filling is made with fresh ricotta and chopped basil.

Simple. Easy. So far so good.

And then there's the sauce. Depending on the time of year, you can use what's on hand. Since the summer abundance of tomato season hasn't arrived yet, I'm using a Passata . Any pasta sauce will do. If you want it slightly spicy, you can use an Arrabiata . If you prefer a sweeter sauce, try a Peperonata  made with caramelized onion and sauteed golden + red bell peppers.  In summer, you can roast or grill fresh tomatoes of any variety and puree or emulsify as they are, or add a few cloves of fresh garlic, basil and salt + pepper for seasoning.

See? This is a dish that will make everyone at the table happy.  Buon appetito!

For those of you that love your pasta, use uncooked fresh lasagna  pasta sheets in place of the eggplant.

1 large eggplant cut lengthwise into thin strips
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Kosher salt
 ¾ cup ricotta cheese
 ¼ parmesan cheese
 2 Tbs. fresh basil leaves, torn
 1 tsp. black pepper
 1 whole egg
 1 tsp. fresh mint leaves, chopped or 1 Tablespoon Mint and Pistachio Pesto 
 ½ cup  Eggplant Pesto * optional
 2 cups  Organic Passata al Pomodoro pasta sauce
 8 oz. Mozzarella Cheese

Arrange eggplant slices on a plate and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Grill over a medium flame on a grill until golden brown on both sides, about one minute per side. (*Alternatively you can sauté the eggplant with extra virgin olive oil  or roast in a 350 degree oven until light brown on both sides ) Set eggplant strips aside  to cool until ready to fill.

To make filling:
 In a medium mixing bowl add the  parmesan, ricotta, basil, black pepper, salt, egg, mint, and eggplant pesto {optional}. Mix until all ingredients are combined.

To assemble:
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Pour passata into a medium-sized oven proof casserole. 
 Take one slice of eggplant and place 2 Tablespoons on the filling mixture at one end and slowly roll it loosely to the other end.  Continue with the remaining slices of eggplant.

Place one slice of the mozzarella over each piece and bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted, slightly brown and bubbly.

Garnish with torn fresh basil leaves and a grating of parmesan and serve with crusty toasted slices of Italian bread rubbed with a fresh garlic clove. 

Serve four.

Buon appetito!
copyright 2010 Alisa Barry

No comments: