My spin on Eggplant Rollatini
|Last week while perusing my favorite foodie blogs, I visited Weekly Dish and started drooling over this dish of Grilled Eggplant and Portabello Salad yum! So I went out and got myself some beautiful looking portabellos and a big shiny eggplant with every intention of making this delicious sounding salad this week. Alas, my big shiny eggplant was looking a lil worse for wear when I pulled it out last night to chop it up and marinate it overnight for tonight's dinner. So I decided I had better use it up right then and there to be safe. I'll put another eggplant on my list for this week so I can make the salad next week. Doesn't it always work out that way? *sigh*|
I was craving some kind of meat as well last night, since I've been doing the vegetable and pasta thing this week. I've been making Giada's lasagna rolls for ages now and wondered if she had done anything similar with eggplant, so I consulted the mammary book. I found her recipe for Eggplant Rollatini and I gave it a quick look and got the gist of it, but decided I wanted to combine the way I make her lasagna rolls with my eggplant.
Keeper! Total keeper! The eggplant was so tender after grilling it and with the stuffing of beef and italian sausage and oohhhh the cheese, the melty ooey gooey cheese - I thought maybe I might have over powered the taste of the eggplant, but it was very present and ohhh so good =) I'm especially delighted with the way this recipe turned out as my mom is a total eggplant parmesan freak, but she's never cooked with eggplant herself and she's only found one restaurant in all of northeast Ohio that actually cooks the eggplant so that it's tender enough for her to chew. That's a good thing, that she found a restaurant, but it's kind of a bummer as well, because if we go anywhere else.. she can't have one of her favorite dishes. Well now, although it's not eggplant parmesan, I've got a dish I can make her that I know she'll thoroughly enjoy and that she can have more often. That makes me very, very happy! =)
So here's my take on Eggplant Rollatini.. enjoy!
1 large eggplant
1/2 lb. ground sirloin
1/2 lb. sweet italian sausage (or use hot if you want a spicy kick)
1 (15 oz.) tub of ricotta cheese
1 (1 lb.) bag of fresh baby spinach (or a 10 oz. box of frozen, chopped spinach - thawed & squeezed until dry)
2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
sliced Provolone cheese (or mozzarella or any good melting italian cheese)
Pecorino Romano cheese
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375º F.
Slice the eggplant length wise about 1/8 inch thick. Place your slices on a cookie rack that's been placed over a jelly roll sheet and sprinkle both sides generously with kosher salt. Let sit for about a 1/2 hour so the salt can bring out some of the water in the eggplant and reduce the bitterness of it.
While you are waiting for that, brown your sirloin and sausage and chop the spinach. (By all means, you can use frozen, chopped spinach - just thaw it out and make sure you've squeezed all the water from it - I usually place the thawed spinach in a clean kitchen towel, wrap it up tightly and squeeze all the water out that way) Once the meat has browned, combine it in a large bowl with the spinach, ricotta, romano (wanna know how much? Hmm.. how much do you like cheese? Use as much or as little as you'd like - I like! So I probably used a good two handfuls), salt and pepper, set aside.
Heat a grillpan or your broiler.
When the eggplant is done sitting in the salt, rinse it really well and place on paper towels, blotting excess water from them. Drizzle olive oil on the side of eggplant that you'll be putting down on the pan and then drizzle the tops with a little more olive oil. Grill each side for approximately 3 to 4 minutes, or until they are tender.
Now it's time to assemble your rollatini. I took my eggplant off the heat and placed them on a cookie sheet and then spread about 2 TBS of the beef/cheese/spinach mixture of them and rolled them up. It was kind of messy but kind of fun as well =)
Place 1 1/2 c. of your marinara in a 9" x 13" baking dish and then put the rolls on top. Spoon the remaining 1/2 c. of your marinara over each rollatini and then place a slice of the provolone on each. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Take the foil off and either bake for another 5 minutes to brown the cheese or if you just can't wait another 5 minutes (like me!) turn on the broiler to brown it quicker :D
I served this with a simple salad of leaf lettuce, grape tomatoes and yellow bell peppers dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and about a tsp. of good garlic salt. Yum!
*Note: I only got 7 rollatini from my eggplant and had about a good 2 c. of beef mixture left over, so if you have a large family, use 2 eggplants. I didn't want to waste the beef mixture, so while my rollatini was baking, I boiled 4 lasagna noodles until they were al dente and then made 4 lasagne rolls, which I froze for another time.