As we are coming to the end of Autumn we would like to enjoy some of the season’s last Eggplant before winter sets in. Although eggplant are available all year round, they are grown in greenhouses during the colder months. Don’t get me wrong…..I’m grateful that we are able to purchase this wonderful fruit throughout the year, but the greenhouse varieties just don’t seem to have the same flavour as summer’s sun kissed fruit.
In the south of Italy, we commonly see eggplant married with ripe tomatoes. This recipe combines eggplant, stuffed with cheese and baked in a tomato sugo.
This recipes makes just over 10 involtini. Choose large fruit as it’s easier to handle.
What you will need:
1 large eggplant
1-2 tbs salt
Oil to fry (I use a refined olive oil – NOT extra virgin olive oil)
1-2 cups bread crumbs
For the Filling:
150 grams fresh medium to firm Ricotta
50 grams grated parmesan cheese
12 large basil leaves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tablespoon pine nuts
For the Sauce:
250g cherry tomatoes
2 cups tomato passata
small bunch basil
1 tbs olive oil
3 garlic cloves
salt & pepper to season
OR….. you can pop open a jar of your ready made SUGO
How to prepare:
We used a mandolin to slice the the eggplants in 8mm slices.
Eggplant contain a lot of water, and this next step is to ensure water is released from the eggplant and your dish does not end up in a puddle.
Generously salt the egg plant and layer the slices in a colander. Place a small plate over the top and set some weight over the top. (a jug of water will do). Leave it in your sink to drain while your prepare your sauce.
Alternatively, for those of you who haven’t made your Sugo yet…..
In a saucepan, prepare the sauce. Add the olive oil and garlic, saute on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Pierce each cherry tomato and add to the saucepan. Roughly squash each tomato then add the passata and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat.
Add the basil, salt and pepper to season. Simmer the sauce down for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the sauce contains water, continue simmering until the water has evaporated. Set aside.
To prepare the filling, add all ingredients into a mix master or thermomix and chop until all ingredients are mixed thoroughly. Set aside.
Let’s get back to the eggplants… By now your eggplant will have released a lot of its water and become limp. Pat dry with some paper towel to remove excess water. Then coat each slice in breadcrumbs.
In a fry pan, add the olive oil and place on medium heat.
Fry the coated eggplant in the oil for approximately 2 minutes on each side.
Drain on paper towel.
Lay the cooked eggplants flat. Add a heaped spoonful of the ricotta cheese filling on the widest area of the eggplant, approximately 1 centimeter from the edge. Roll and secure with a toothpick.
Lay into a deep baking dish. The eggplant ends are too small to fill and roll, however you don’t want to waste any of this tasty goodness. So just lay them on top with a couple of basil leaves in between.
Pour the tomato sauce (or sugo) over the top and bake in the a 180 degree oven for 45 minutes. Ensure all the water has dried out of the dish and all that remains is a dense sauce.
Set aside to rest for 15 minutes. This allows the filling to set so that they don’t fall apart as you remove them from the baking dish.
Sprinkle with pine nuts and enjoy.