Eggplant Involtini

Eggplant Involtini

You know how some people ask you about your favorite things to get to know you? Like “what is your favorite book?” , ”what is your favorite food?”, “what is your favorite movie”, etc.
I can’t say that I like answering those types of questions, mainly because most of the time I do not have a readily available answer in my mind.

Don’t get me wrong.  I do have an opinion about what I like.  But when it comes to picking a “favorite”, I feel like I am being unfair to the other things I like.

That being said, when it comes to vegetables, things are a little different. I do have a “favorite”. A favorite, that stood the test of time even after years of cooking with a lot of other vegetables.

Eggplant Involtini

My favorite vegetable is eggplant. If I had my way, I could eat eggplants every day for the rest of my life.
Bold statement from a person who claims she does not have “favorites”, right?!!??

When I saw the remake of Eggplant Involtini in this month’s Cooks Illustrated magazine, I couldn’t wait to go to the supermarket to get some eggplants so that I can make it right away. It came at a perfect time as I was looking for vegetarian dishes to share on the blog.

In Italian, Involtini means “little bundles”. And this dish is exactly that. Thinly sliced eggplants filled with a delicious ricotta cheese based filling, rolled into a bundle, and cooked in an easy-to-make tomato sauce.
After topping it off with freshly grated pecorino cheese and chopped fresh basil, to me, this dish represents the best flavors of the Italian Cuisine.

Here is how to make it:

Begin by getting all the ingredients ready. Pre-heat your oven to 375 F Degrees.

Eggplant Involtini

Then, peel the eggplants with a vegetable peeler. For this recipe, I would recommend shorter and wider eggplants to get the best results.
Cut each eggplant lengthwise into 6 slices. Each slice should be about ½ inch thick. Trim the rounded ends so that they will lay flat.
Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray them generously with cooking spray. Place 6 eggplant slices on each baking sheet.
Start with the first baking sheet. Brush each eggplant slice with two and a half tablespoons of olive oil and season it with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Flip each slice and do the same thing for the other side. Repeat the same process for the second baking sheet.

Place both sheets in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until they are tender and lightly browned. To ensure even baking, switch and rotate sheets half way through the baking process.

Eggplant Involtini

In the mean time, make the filling. Place 1 cup of homemade ricotta cheese (or full-fat supermarket ricotta cheese), ½ cup bread crumbs, ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir until they are all combined.

Eggplant Involtini

To make the tomato sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet (I used my 10-inch cast iron skillet). Add the 3 cloves of minced garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon oregano, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir them with a wooden spatula and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and cook in medium low heat, until it thickens. Cover and set aside.

When eggplants are baked, let them cool for 5 minutes. Do not turn the oven off. Heat the broiler.
Using a spatula, flip each slice over. With the widest side of the eggplant slices facing you, evenly distribute the ricotta mixture onto each slice. Starting from the widest end gently roll each piece and place it, seamed side down, in the pan with the tomato sauce.
Bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Allow it to cook for 5 minutes.

Eggplant Involtini

Place it in the oven and broil for 5 minutes for the eggplants to be browned and the cheese to cook thoroughly. To finish it up, sprinkle it with ¼ cup of grated Pecorino Romano and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley. And serve.

Eggplant InvoltiniEggplant InvoltiniEggplant Involtini

Eggplant Involtini makes a great vegetarian main course. However, your can also serve it as a side dish next to your favorite meat dishes.

Also, it goes so well with a glass of Pinot Noir.

Try it and you shall see.

PS: The giveaway for a $100 E-gift card for amazon.com is still going on. Click here to enter for a chance to win. ♣

Eggplant Involtini
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 eggplants, each approximately1 ½ half lbs.*
  • 5+1 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, preferably homemade
  • ¾ cup Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ + ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped – divided
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper
  • 1 (28 ounces) can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 F Degrees.
  2. Peel the eggplants. Cut them lengthwise into 6 slices. Each slice should be about ½ inch thick. Trim the rounded ends so that they will lay flat.
  3. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray them generously with cooking spray. Place 6 eggplant slices on each baking sheet.
  4. Start with the first baking sheet. Brush each eggplant slice with two and a half tablespoons of olive oil (you use the 2.5 tbs olive oil to brush all of the slices) and season it with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Flip each slice and do the same thing for the other side. Repeat the same process for the second baking sheet.
  5. Place both sheets in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until they are tender and lightly browned. To ensure even baking, switch and rotate sheets half way through the baking process.
  6. In the mean time, make the filling. Place 1 cup of homemade ricotta cheese (or full-fat supermarket ricotta cheese), ½ cup bread crumbs, ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, ¼ cup chopped fresh basil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir until they are all combined. Set aside.
  7. To make the tomato sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet (I used my 10-inch cast iron skillet). Add the garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, oregano, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir them with a wooden spatula and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and cook in medium low heat, until it thickens. Cover and set aside.
  8. When eggplants are baked, let them cool for 5 minutes. Do not turn the oven off. Heat the broiler.
  9. Using a spatula, flip each slice over. With the widest side of the eggplant slices facing you, evenly distribute the ricotta mixture onto each slice. Starting from the widest end, gently roll each piece and place it, seamed side down, in the pan with the tomato sauce.
  10. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Allow it to cook for 5 minutes.
  11. Place it in the oven and broil for 5 minutes for the eggplants to be browned and the cheese to cook thoroughly.
  12. To finish it up, sprinkle it with ¼ cup of grated Pecorino Romano and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley.
  13. Serve.
Notes
* I would recommend shorter and wider eggplants to get the best results.

Recipe adapted (with minor changes) from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, June 2014 edition.

Eggplant Involtini

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Comments

  1. I came across this post on Blogher and just wanted to say the Eggplant Involtini looks so nice (and delicious). I would be such great dish to entertain with.

  2. I love eggplant so much too and I’m happy to see it at bazaar these days. You know it tastes better in summer. I like it in any forms from karniyarik and imambayildi to a simple fried version. Never had involtini before. These little bundles look so elegant! Love the ricotta filling inside. Bookmarking it to try later.

  3. It’s a great idea to bake eggplant in the oven then cook with it. I love eggplant but always have trouble to cook with them, since it requires a lot of oil to be delicious. I never had eggplant involtini before, but they look so delicious in the picture.
    Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. Hey! Cooks specifically says NOT to use pre-diced tomatoes, as they take longer to break down. Use whole tomatoes and crush them with your fingers. (There was a long discussion about why in the article.)
    In any case, this is a great recipe, and freezes well, too.

    • Oh, and it can’t be 2.5 Tbsp of olive oil for each eggplant slice!! What does the original say? (Can’t find it..!)

      • Hi Nell,
        Yes, you are right. You use the 2.5 tbsp olive oil for all the eggplant slices. Not just for 1 slice.
        I made the changes in the recipe to make it clear.
        Thank you so much for pointing it out.
        And please let me know if I can answer any other questions you may have.
        Best,
        Ice

    • Hi Nell,
      Interesting.. Do you have a copy of that article? I would love to read it.
      Thank you for your kind comment and letting me know about the tomatoes.
      Best,
      Ice

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