I’d never heard of involtini before recently marathon-watching American’s Test Kitchen. (LOVE that show!)
Involtini is a food (such as eggplant or a meat) that’s sliced thin and rolled around a stuffing. They demonstrated a quick and easy version of Eggplant Involtini, which I immediately tried. Fabulous! Naturally, I tweaked the recipe a bit.
It’s fast enough for a weeknight dinner, and special enough for company. A perfect recipe to add to your repertoire.
NOTE: I followed America’s Test Kitchen suggestion to peel the eggplant. But since the skin contains the antioxidant nasunin, I also tested a version without peeling to see if there was a need for this step. Result: leave the peel alone! The Eggplant Involtini tasted delicious both ways – so why bother with the extra work?!
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Buy eggplants no more than 1 day before usage – they don’t keep well.
EGGPLANT INVOLTINI – makes about 10 rolls
- 2 long (about 8″) eggplants
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 T additional vegetable oil
- 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp (or 1/2 tsp for the adventurous) dried pepper flakes
- 1 tsp salt, divided
- 2 T red wine
- 1/2 cup pecorino-romano cheese, shredded
- 1 slice hardened bread (I used whole wheat and pita – both worked)
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (don’t use dried!)
- 1 T lemon juice
- extra pecorino-romano and basil to sprinkle on top
Cut top and bottom off eggplants. In order to keep eggplants steady as you slice them, cut off about 1/3″ from one side in the bulbous area. Lay this cut end down. Slice eggplant lengthwise into 1/2″ wide slabs – there will be 4-5, depending on how fat the eggplants are.
Lay slices on a very large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush eggplant with some of the 1/3 cup vegetable oil, then salt and pepper. Turn slices over, then brush again with vegetable oil, and salt and pepper. You may not use up all of the oil.
Bake in a preheated 375° fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
While eggplant is baking, cut up whole tomatoes into small pieces (remove the stem end, and any skin or blemishes), saving the juice. In a very large skillet over medium flame, heat the 1 T vegetable oil. Add in garlic, oregano, dried pepper flakes, and 1/2 tsp salt. Sauté 1 minute – don’t let garlic burn. Pour in the tomatoes and juice, and wine. Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce flame. Let cook 15 minutes.
FINAL NOTE – I PROMISE: If you like this dish, double or triple (or more) the marinara sauce and freeze in portions for future use.
In a medium sized bowl, mix the pecorino-romano, ricotta, basil, lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp salt. Break bread slice into small pieces. Grind them into crumbs in a blender or food processor. Add bread crumbs to cheese mixture.
After eggplant has been out of the oven for 5 minutes, carefully flip each piece. Put about 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture on the wider end of the eggplant strips. Roll up eggplant and place in skillet with the marinara sauce, seam side down. Continue with each slice.
Cover skillet and, over medium flame, heat the Eggplant Involtini for 5 minutes. While that’s cooking, turn on broiler, placing rack about 5″ from top element.
Broil for 5 minutes.
To serve, sprinkle with additional pecorino-romano and basil.