I am a huge eggplant fanatic. Whenever I make vegetarian meals I’ll admit that I tend to gravitate to either eggplants or mushrooms or both.
I have a vague memory of being a child and us trying to grow eggplants in our basement? I’m not sure what we were thinking considering the plants probably needed sun but maybe we moved them?
Either way, it’s one of those hazy half-remembered childhood memories that you wonder if they even happened or if it’s just a random dream masquerading as a memory.
But let’s get back to the food. In addition to loving eggplant, I have a particular fondness for Italian cuisine. And considering how well the two go together it’s a match made in heaven.
I decided to go the rollatini route simply because I love food items stuffed in other food items. I’ve yet to try a turducken but I will, oh yes, one glorious day I will (it’s just the cost of it that’s held me back). And yes I could probably make my own but that takes some prime butchery skills that I’m not sure I possess.
Of course, we’re focusing on healthy here so I really wanted to work on cutting back fat and calories and pumping up the nutritive value. Some of the eggplant rollatinis you get out at restaurants can be gut busters (I’m looking at you Maggiano’s. Side note a half order of their eggplant parmesan has 650 calories and 22g of saturated fat!)
- 1 large eggplant – preferably longer and skinner for easy rolling
- ¾ - 1 cup pasta sauce, depending on how saucy you like it (aim for a low fat one)
- ¼ cup part skim mozzarella
- ½ cup whole wheat panko
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Nonstick spray
- ¼ cup fat free ricotta
- ¼ cup low fat cottage cheese
- 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and wrung dry
- 2 Tbsp shredded parmesan
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil, minced
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- ½ - 1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Cut the top and bottom off of the eggplant. Cut into four ¼ inch thick slices (make sure you’re cutting it long ways)
- Combine panko and flour in shallow dish. Put beaten egg in another shallow dish.
- Sprinkle each eggplant slice on both sides with salt and pepper. Dip in egg and then lightly coat with panko/flour mix (they won’t be fully coated).
- Spray tops of eggplant slices with nonstick spray. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. Flip, spray the now top side with spray and bake for another 8 – 10 minutes or until golden brown and soft enough to roll.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
- In a bowl combine ricotta through salt and pepper, mix well. Divide between the four eggplant slices and roll up. Place in a baking dish seam side down.
- Top each roll with pasta sauce and 1 Tbsp of mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for another 25 minutes until filling is warmed through and cheese has melted.
Alright so I know that classically this would be served with a side of pasta, but I figured I had my grain covered by the panko and flour on the eggplant itself.
Plus my CSA came with some awesome carrots and a head of broccoli so I decided to do a simple broccoli and carrot sauté with Italian flavors instead.
Broccoli + Carrots + Eggplant + Sauce + Cheese = A delicious dinner.