These Eggplant Rollatini are all the good-ness of lasagna but without the carbs and feeling of fullness afterwards! Absolutely delicious. Admittedly, this recipe does call for a few steps, takes about an hour and a half and can be a bit of a fiddle. However, if you have ever tried stuffing cannelloni rolls, this will be a breeze! Not only that, but I promise you it will be worth it.
Another great part about it is that you can make it in advance and freeze. Simply heat in the oven at 180c. I normally make two trays of this dish, demolish one in one dinner sitting (no judgement please), and freeze the other for a day where I don’t feel like cooking.
This is also a great recipe to have for when you might be throwing a dinner party. Either you can serve it as a cozy, winter dish with garlic bread. Or even better – as an appetizer during summer. Why I’m suggesting this is because at least here in Cyprus, I tend to only find eggplants that are on the smaller side. While this may mean additional work, it works out better because they are adorable in size and perfect as an appetizer!
To do this, follow the recipe the same way. Once cooked, place two eggplant rolls with a spoonful of sauce on top. Serve them on a bed of rocket with a balsamic drizzle.
Preparing the Eggplant Rollatini:
You have probably seen in recipes elsewhere, that before you cook sliced eggplant, you are supposed to coat the eggplant slices in salt and let them sweat. It seems like such a hassle I know. You have to prepare in advance, and then pat them dry to remove all the moisture that has ‘sweated’ out. The question is….to sweat or not to sweat?
Eggplants have a natural bitterness to them. That, combined with the fact that without sweating them first, means that they don’t let any moisture in. What that means is that if you skip the sweating process, they simply wont take in the flavour as well. If you season, or coat them in olive or coconut oil, for example, they just won’t be as flavourful.
Long story short, take the extra 30 minutes!
This sauce recipe is one that must get cooked in my house at least once a week! It’s just so versatile. I use it for spaghetti bolognese, lasagna, I even make a thicker version and use it on homemade pizzas sometimes! I combine a range of flavours including fresh basil herb, balsamic vinegar, honey and crushed red pepper. Feel free to play around with quantities for your own taste preferences.
On mine, I added (more) crumbled feta cheese, za’atar seasoning, as well as toasted pine nuts. I promise you, it makes a big difference to the end result!
- 3 medium eggplants
- olive oil
For the Filling:
- 1 small white onion
- 200 grams feta cheese crumbled
- 200 grams frozen spinach
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 2 roasted red peppers
- 1 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
- 50 grams yellow cheese (optional)
For the Sauce
- 2 small white onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 can canned tomatoes
- 70 grams tomato paste
- 1 splash red wine
- 1 tsp thick balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
- 10 leaves fresh basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
For the Topping
- 50 grams feta cheese
- 2 tsp zaatar seasoning
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- Wash the eggplants and cut off the ends. Slice length-ways into 1/4" slices and discard the peel-covered ends. Lay the slices out on a baking tray or on kitchen roll. Coat generously in salt and let them sweat out for roughly 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Finely chop the onions and fry until soft. Please note that you can fry the onion for the filling at the same time and remove before you continue making the sauce. After, add the finely chopped garlic to the sauce's onions.
- Add canned tomatoes, tomato paste and red wine. Stir. Add the remainder of the sauce ingredients and mix well. Season further to taste and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes or so. Remove from heat.
- Prepare the spinach and place in a medium-size bowl. Add the cooked onions, feta cheese. Add the finely chopped roasted red pepper, mint, and one egg. Mix well.
- Preheat the oven to 180c.
- Once the eggplants have rested, pat them dry to remove as much moisture as you can. Lightly coat them with olive oil and batch fry them over medium-heat for around 2-3 minutes on each side. Don't over-cook them - you just want them cooked enough so that they fold!
- Lightly grease a 12" x 8" baking dish with olive oil. Once the eggplant slices are cool enough to handle, spoon the mixture on to one end of the eggplant slice and roll tightly. Place in the baking tray.
- Once the dish is full , spoon the sauce to cover the eggplant rolls. Top with crumbled feta cheese, Za'atar seasoning, and toasted pine nuts.
- Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes.
You can substitute fresh spinach for frozen if needed. Just make sure that you drain the spinach very well. Otherwise, the additional moisture will make the finished dish soggy! Please note that I used frozen spinach for this dish as it’s all I had on hand! Therefore, the 200g weight is of bundled frozen spinach, not for fresh un-cooked spinach.
See how you go with the quantity of the filling. It’s hard to be very precise when the size of the eggplants used can vary so much! So depending on the width of the eggplants, you may need to increase the quantity of filling slightly.
Other recipes to try:
Did you make this recipe? Tag @pinkpeppercorncyprus on Instagram and hashtag it #pinkpeppercorncatering