Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Eggplant Rollatini with Goat Cheese Filling & Tomato Sauce

This is one of our favorite dishes. My husband and I have been making this recipe for about 8 years--the original idea came from Bon Appetit magazine. It's a cross between lasagna and eggplant parmigiana without the frying. Most rollatini recipes call for frying, but the first time we made this, we just grilled the eggplant and it was delicious. Then every time afterwards, we discovered that baking it was just as good--and easier since there was less chance of burning through the thinner sections of the slices.

The recipe seemd a bit daunting to me at first, but after you make it the first time, it's really very straightforward and goes by quicker. This recent time we had it, I was surprised that it fell together pretty quickly and dinner was ready in an hour (30 min baking). The most time consuming part was cutting the eggplant: it is absolutely fine if you cannot cut the eggplant slices all evenly-I never can--just roughly the same thickness and even if you get half slices, that's fine too. I put them together by sometimes overlapping the thinner ones somewhat. Once the filling is on top, roll the slices--easier to do than it sounds, really. I'm no Mario Batali and this dish always ends up great regardless of how the eggplant is cut.

I suggest that you use a marinara sauce such as these by Bertolli. This dish is SO delicious. They eggplant is not soggy, the cheese melts in the middle, and you can control how much sauce you use--but definately serve it with crusty European bread. We always serve this eggplant rollatini with couscous--a perfect pairing actually, the aforementioned hearty bread and a green vegetable (in this case spinach).


2 medium eggplants (sliced lengthwise into 1/4-1/3 inch slices-and no I never measure)-do NOT peel
8 oz. part-skim ricotta (1 cup)
8 oz. goat cheese (1 cup)
1 pkg. part-skim mozzarella
1 egg, beaten
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (divided into half--1/2 cup goes in filling, 1/2 cup gets sprinkled on top)
handful of basil leaves, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 green onions, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 jar of marinara sauce (I used a really big jar, but about 3 cups should cover the dish--we just like a lot of sauce)
1 box of couscous (Near East is the brand sold at most grocery stores)--I think 10 oz. is the size I used--get one that serves at least 6 people.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spray 3 baking sheets and one 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with OLIVE OIL nonstick spray. Arrange eggplant slices in single layer on prepared sheets and lightly spray them. Season the slices with salt and pepper. Bake them for 10 minutes, turning once, until the slices are tender. They may stick slightly on the pan, so turn them over gently. It's ok if they tear--you can do a 'patch job' afterwards. Below are what mine looked like--the good and the 'bad'.

In a medium bowl, mix mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, egg, basil, green onion and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Season filling with salt and pepper.

Divide this filling among eggplant slices (about 3 tablespoons per slice); spread evenly. Starting at 1 short end, roll up eggplant slices, enclosing filling. Arrange rolls, seam side down, in prepared baking dish. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. If I'm not entertaining, I divide among 2 smaller containers and freeze one pan).

Spoon marinara sauce over rolls; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (if you wish-or you could use it all in the filling). Bake, uncovered, until rollatini are heated through and mozzarella cheese melts, about 30 minutes.

While the eggplant bakes, you can prepare the couscous according to package directions. Serve the couscous on the side with the eggplant or serve the eggplant rollatini on top of the couscous.

Serves about 8 (if you serve the rollatini with bread and a vegetable, a 6 serving box of couscous should be sufficient for 8 people).

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