I love eggplant, fried, baked or smoked over an open fire, this ancient (first mentioned in Chinese texts about 544 AD) fruit is versatile and delicious. Over the years I’ve made curries, ratatouille, Eggplant Parmesan and stuffed eggplant. So what to make? A perusal of the internet revealed Eggplant Rollatini. Breaded and fried eggplant wrapped around ricotta, baked in a tomato sauce served over pasta. That sounds good!
This is new recipe for me and really combines two recipes.
The first is for ricotta cheese. I got the inspiration to try this from fellow blogger ChgoJohn over at from the Bartolini kitchens who has a wonderful series on homemade cheese. If you are not familiar with John I suggest you check out his blog. Poignant memories combine with mouth-watering Italian home cooking. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Of all his cheeses, this is the simplest so it made sense to me to start here. As John says, the recipe comes originally from Albert Capone of Capone Foods Cambridge. Make this! The combination of easy and unbelievably delicious demand it! You will need a thermometer, either candy or fryer thermometer will work just fine. You will also need some cheese cloth which lives up to its name here!
1 pint heavy cream
1 tbsp table salt
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
- Line colander with cheese cloth
- Combine milk, cream, and salt in a large sauce pan
- Heat over medium heat. stir often to keep from scorching.
- Bring to a temp of 185-190F.
- Add vinegar and stir gently for 15 -30 seconds.
- Keep on the heat another 2-3 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat and let rest 15-20 minutes.
- Scoop curds from pot into cheese cloth lined colander. (do yourself a favor and taste it at this point, warm, cheesey, buttery, fantastic!)
- Let drain at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
- When drained, remove from cheese cloth and pack into airtight container, place back in fridge until ready to use.
It’s written this will keep up to 12 days but I don’t know…. I’m pretty sure it won’t last that long because I tasted some on toast – some with just coarse salt and another with a drizzle of honey. I almost wept at how good it was. Really.
But that is just the start, on to the rollatini (sounds like a made up name by someone who does not speak Italian)
2 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 cups bread crumbs seasoned with dried basil, oregano and garlic powder
1.5 lbs ricotta – room temperature
proscuitto – (optional – omit for vegetarian version)
Oil for frying – eggplant will soak it up. To use less use a nonstick pan
16 oz of your favorite tomato sauce (my last two jars from last summer!)
Mozzarella to top
1/4 cup Parmesan to top
Cooked thin pasta of your choice – angel hair, spaghetti, linguine are all perfect.
- Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and place in a colander let rest 30 minutes. This is not so much to “get rid of bitterness” but rather to remove water.
- Rinse off eggplant and pat dry
- Dredge eggplant slices in egg, then bread crumbs
- Fry lightly over medium heat until golden brown
- Remove to cookie rack or paper towel lined plate and repeat until slices are all done.
- Let eggplant cool to room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Put a layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. I used a 8″x 11″ dish
- Put a thin layer of that delicious homemade ricotta on the eggplant. If you are using prosciutto, add a layer now.
- Roll it up (stem end to base) gently and place seam side down in baking dish.
- Repeat until pan is full
- Spoon tomato sauce over the top of the rolls, top with mozzarella slices, sprinkle with Parmesan
- Bake in oven 20-30 minutes or until until cheese is melted and slightly browned.
It’s not often I make something that makes me say “WOW.” But this was it. Sure it is a little time consuming, but it is so worth it! Perfect for a romantic weekend dinner or a dinner party.
Until next time, Eat well & Keep digging!