Eggplant Involtini

Eggplant Involtini

Prep Time: 1½ Hours

Yields: 4–6 Servings


Eggplant is one of the truly underrated culinary joys. The simple elegance of fresh vegetables, herbs and rich cheeses must be tasted to be appreciated.


2 (1½-pound) large eggplants, peeled

6 tbsps vegetable oil, divided

salt and black pepper to taste

granulated garlic to taste

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

¼ tsp dried oregano

pinch red pepper flakes

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained, chopped and juice reserved

1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces

1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

¾ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided

¼ cup plus 1 tbsp fresh-chopped basil, divided

1 tbsp lemon juice


NOTE: Select shorter, wider eggplants for this recipe. Adjust one oven rack to lower-middle position and second rack 8 inches from broiler element. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. Slice each eggplant lengthwise into 6 (½-inch) thick planks. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheets. Brush one side of eggplant slices with 2½ tablespoons oil and season to taste with salt, black pepper and granulated garlic. Flip eggplant and repeat process. Bake 30–35 minutes or until tender and lightly brown, rotating baking sheets halfway through cooking time. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes. Using a thin spatula, flip each slice over and set aside. Preheat broiler. In a 12-inch, broiler-safe skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-low heat. Add minced garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes then cook 30 seconds or until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomatoes and juice. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cook until thickened, 10–15 minutes. Cover and set aside. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse bread 10–15 times until finely ground. In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, ricotta, ½ cup Pecorino, ¼ cup basil, lemon juice and salt to taste. With the widest ends of eggplant slices facing you, evenly distribute ricotta mixture on bottom third of each slice. Gently roll up each eggplant slice and place seam-side down into tomato sauce. Bring sauce to a simmer over medium heat and cook 5 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and broil until eggplant is well browned and cheese is heated through, 5–10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Allow to stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon basil. Serve with crusty French bread and a salad.