Baked Eggplant Involtini
- 3-4 eggplants (about one pound), trimmed and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
- 8 oz. ricotta cheese
- ½ cup toasted pistachios, crushed
- ⅓ cup raisins, soaked in hot water until plump, drained and patted dry
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled, minced and divided
- 1-½ tsp. each fresh mint and fresh basil, sliced chiffonade style (See notes, end of article)
- Sprigs of fresh basil for garnish
- ½ cup cleaned fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 26.46-oz. container Pomi chopped tomatoes
- 2 large balls fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
- 1 cup grated Locatelli or Parmesan cheese
Aperol Spritz Ingredients
- 3 ounces prosecco
- 2 ounces Aperol
- 1 ounce club soda
- Garnish: orange slice
Gather around the table for an Italian American-inspired menu featuring baked Eggplant Involtini. As an accompaniment, serve it with Italian antipasto, the elements for which can be found in the Co-op’s deli section. And treat the fam to a festive cocktail — perhaps an Aperol spritz. Then cue up nostalgic songs from Frank Sinatra and Etta James and enjoy!
- Heat oven to 375°. Set up a sheet pan with a cooling rack on top and place it next to the stove. Pour half the box of Pomi tomatoes into a 9x13” baking dish and mix in two cloves minced garlic along with the salt and pepper.
- Toss or brush eggplant slices with olive oil and set aside.
- Place a cast iron skillet (or any heavy-bottomed pan) over medium-high heat. Add just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. Heat until the oil is hot but not smoking. Working in batches, place eggplant slices in the skillet, being careful not to overcrowd it. Sauté 3-4 slices at one time, giving them a chance to brown on each side. You may need to add olive oil before starting each new batch of eggplant.
- After sautéing the eggplant on both sides, set the slices on the cooling rack with the sheet tray underneath.
- While the eggplant cools, prepare the stuffing. In a large bowl combine the feta, ricotta, 1/4 cup toasted crushed pistachios, raisins, lemon zest, mint, basil, fresh parsley and the rest of the minced garlic. Mix in the egg and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Set up your working area to roll the eggplant. Spread out the slices on a clean, dry surface and divide the stuffing evenly among them, placing one to two tablespoons at one end of each slice. Roll up the slices tightly to secure the filling, and place in the baking dish snugly in a single layer.
- Spoon out the remainder of the tomato sauce on top of the eggplant rolls. Arrange fresh mozzarella slices down the center of each row. Drizzle with olive oil and top with grated Locatelli cheese, basil and the rest of the crushed pistachios.
- Bake until the cheese has melted and the eggplant is simmering and fragrant, 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for five minutes. Serve hot.
Mangiamo & Saluti!
- Involtini is Italian word describing various small bites of food consisting of some sort of outer layer wrapped around a filling.
- Chiffonade is the technique of cutting herbs or leafy green vegetables into long, thin strips.