Maju’s Eggplant Rollatini

Happy weekend everyone!

I can’t believe how quickly December is going by. I’m pretty positive everyone is in the same boat of being ready for 2020 to be over. I could not agree more!

I’m very excited to share this recipe with you because it’s another Chef Maju special!

Eggplant Rollatini

Maju has made this for me a couple times now, and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite dishes he makes. It is a bit labor intensive, because you know how chef’s like to be, a bit extra 😉 In the recipe portion under notes, I will give you some ideas of how to modify the recipe slightly to simplify it a bit!

It starts with fresh roma tomatoes, about 5 pounds worth, cut into a rough dice.

Then in a large skillet, heat up olive oil and add lots of garlic. This was about 8 cloves worth of minced garlic.

Once the garlic cooks down for a few minutes, add in the tomatoes and allow them to simmer away.

While the sauce is working, get to work on the eggplant. Slice 2-3 large eggplants lengthwise in 1/4 inch wide slices. This takes a bit of coordination and knife work, but don’t worry, they don’t need to be perfect.

After you slice them, you want to coat each side with kosher salt and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. This allows moisture to be drawn out of the eggplant before you roast them. Once the eggplants let out moisture, pat them dry with towels. This is important because eggplant is a vegetable that contains a lot of moisture, so if you skip this step, you will have a very watery eggplant rollatini, which is not what we want!

Then brush the bottom of the baking sheet with olive oil (just so the slices don’t stick, you could also use parchment paper) and roast the eggplant at 425 for about 15 minutes. Remove them from the oven and allow the slices to cool completely. In the meantime, let’s work on the ricotta filling!

It starts with wilting down baby spinach.

Once the spinach is cooked, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a food processor, or by hand, mix together the ricotta, minced garlic, parmesan, pecorino, goat cheese, chopped baby spinach, basil, dried oregano, salt and pepper.

Taste the filling to make sure the salt level is right before adding in your egg.

Once the sauce has simmered for about 20 minutes, add in salt, sugar, and cook for about another 10-15 minutes. Then add in the fresh basil, season to taste and remove from the heat.

Once the eggplant slices have cooled its time to assemble. Put about 2 tbsp of the ricotta mixture on the eggplant, sprinkle with some extra parmesan cheese, and gently roll it up! Repeat with all the slices.

Line the bottom of a large baking dish with some of the tomato sauce.

Now time to bake!

But first, top with more cheese. Obvs.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes covered with foil, and 15 minutes without the foil.

YUM. I would just like to note that we used part skim ricotta for this, it was all my Mom could find in a last minute frantic trip to the store lol. I would not recommend because it ends up being a bit watery. Whole milk is definitely the way to go! This is still a much healthier version of eggplant parmesan because there is no breadcrumbs or frying involved!

Maju’s Eggplant Rollatini

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds (about 12) roma tomatoes, roughly chopped*
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (plus more for eggplant)
  • 8 cloves minced garlic, divided 
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar 
  • 5 oz baby spinach*
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped 
  • 2-3 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise ¼ inch slices 
  • 16 oz whole milk ricotta 
  • 4 oz goat cheese 
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, divided
  • 1 cup grated pecorino, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano 
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

Instructions:

  1. In a large sauce pot, add olive oil and 6 cloves of minced garlic. Cook over medium low heat for about 3-4 minutes. Add in all the tomatoes, 2 tbsp of kosher salt, and cook over medium low heat for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, add 3 more tbsp kosher salt, the granulated sugar, and cook over medium low heat for another 10-15 minutes. Add in ½ cup fresh chopped basil, season to taste, and remove from heat. 
  2. While sauce is simmering, work on the eggplant. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lay out the eggplant slices on baking sheets (or on towels at first..) and sprinkle both sides of the eggplant slices with kosher salt. Allow the eggplant to sit for 10-15 minutes until they start to sweat. Pat all the eggplant slices dry with towels. Prepare your baking sheets by brushing them with olive oil. Lay the eggplant slices out in an even layer (they can overlap slightly, that’s fine) and roast for 15 minutes. Allow to cool. 
  3. For the ricotta mixture, cook the spinach down in a pan until just wilted. Remove from the heat, place the spinach in a towel, and drain out all of the liquid from the spinach. Then chop up the spinach into fine pieces. 
  4. In a large bowl or food processor, mix 2 cloves minced garlic, the ricotta, goat cheese, ½ cup parmesan, ½ cup pecorino, the remaining chopped basil, dried oregano, and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Season to taste, then mix in 1 egg and set aside. 
  5. In a large baking dish (think about 10 by 12 inches) line the bottom with a layer of the tomato sauce. Once the eggplant slices have cooled, you can assemble the rollatini. Place about 2 tbsp of the ricotta mixture along the slice of eggplant, top with a bit of grated parmesan, and gently roll up the eggplant and place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat this step with all the eggplant slices.
  6. Top the eggplant rollatini with a bit more of the tomato sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and pecorino. 
  7. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees f. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. 
  8. Allow to cool slightly and serve! 

Notes:

  • You can substitute 2 24oz cans of crushed tomatoes to replace the fresh tomatoes. Or to simplify this even further, you can use a good jarred store bought marinara. I love the Raos brand. 
  • Instead of using fresh baby spinach, you can use frozen chopped spinach, just thaw according to package instructions and drain thoroughly in a kitchen towel to remove all the moisture. You will need about 1 cup worth. 
  • If you don’t like goat cheese, simply omit it, or add a bit of extra parmesan or pecorino. You can also add a bit of shredded mozzarella if you would like!

This is so delicious you guys! And somehow tastes even better the next day!

This would be a great dish to make for Christmas Eve or Christmas Dinner! I will share our menu’s soon if you need some extra inspiration! 🙂

xx Chelcie

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