Eggplant Involtini

Au-bear-gine!

Mario Batali’s  Molto Italiano is one of my all-time favourite cookbooks, high praise considering the sheer volume of my collection. This recipe comes from the antipasto section of the book and it’s perfect as a starter at a dinner party. It’s a little show-offy, especially if you make it with this delicious tomato sauce, but it can be made ahead and popped in the oven when the guests arrive — exactly what you want at a dinner party. It could be served as a main course, but it’s pretty rich, so it would be best paired with a simple salad and some good quality Italian bread.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup whole parsley leaves

Instructions

In a large saute pan, heat 2 cups of the olive oil over medium-high heat until a small piece of onion thrown in sizzles immediately. Fry the eggplant slices, 3 at a time, turning once until soft and golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Heat the oven to 190°C (375°F).

Combine the ricotta, egg and scallions in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Lay the eggplant slices out on a board or tray. Spoon one tbsp of the ricotta mixture at the base of each slice and carefully roll the eggplant up. Place seam side down on the tray.

Pour the sauce into a lightly oiled baking dish and place the rolls in the sauce, seam side down.

Bake until the cheese starts to ooze out of the sides of the rolls, about 15 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, garnish with the fresh parsley and serve piping hot.

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