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On the fussiness scale, this recipe is up there. I hate to start on a negative note, especially when these little ricotta-stuffed rolls turned out to be so stinking good, but I’m not so drawn to these types of recipes anymore — the ones that call for salting and draining and blotting and deep frying and rolling … as adorable as they may be.
But I’ve had this recipe bookmarked since last Christmas when I first opened Tartine Bread. And with eggplant season peaking and with my homemade tomato sauce and ricotta cheese obsession persisting, the timing seemed right. And right it was.
Oh boy. Somehow the flavors of lemon and thyme in the ricotta cheese pervade the eggplant shells, all of which meld together with the fresh tomato and cream sauce base, a perfect combination in this early fall dish.
Don’t let the involtini process deter you from making them. I think you might enjoying getting lost in the monotony of stuffing and rolling and assembling. With a good podcast streaming in the background, the ricotta-stuffed parcels will be ready before you know it.
Are you thinking about baking this weekend? Perhaps with plums? If so, I recommend you take a look at these posts, one from The Garden of Eden and the other from House to Haus. I made the zwetschgentorte today actually — delicious! — and I can’t stop thinking about Darcy’s Plum crumble.
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 2
Adapted from Tartine Bread
- Below is a half recipe of the book’s.
- The book offers a recipe for tomato sauce, which I’m sure is delicious, but I have been hooked on Marcella Hazan’s recipe
- I used these fabulous mini gratin dishes but feel free to use a standard-sized baking dish.
- Recently I made these by roasting the eggplant for 10 minutes on one side, 8 minutes on the other, brushed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. I also simplified the filling by omitting the thyme and lemon juice—I just used lemon zest and salt.
- 1 large eggplant
- kosher salt
- olive oil or canola oil for frying
- homemade tomato sauce
- heavy cream
- freshly Parmigiano Reggiano for servingfor the filling:
- 1/2 cup fresh, dried, or panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta or homemade, which is easy and delicious
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, minced
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- Trim the stem end of each eggplant. Using a mandoline, cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices. You should have about 12 slices. Sprinkle the eggplant on both sides with kosher salt, layer them in a colander, and let stand for 1 hour. (Alternatively, skip the salting and the frying, and roast the eggplant, see notes above.)
- If you are frying: Press the moisture from the eggplant and blot them dry with paper towels. Pour olive (or canola) oil to a depth of 1 inch in a deep, heavy saucepan or large skillet (such as a cast iron pan) and heat to 360ºF on a deep-frying thermometer. Place 3 to 4 eggplant slices in the hot oil and cook until the slices take on some color, 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the slices to a colander (or paper-towel lined plate) to drain. Repeat with remaining slices. (Alternatively, pan fry in less oil till eggplant soften and are lightly golden.)
- Meanwhile, make the filling. In a bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, ricotta, lemon zest, juice, thyme and salt.
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Spoon tomato sauce into a medium-sized baking dish or individual gratin dishes (see above) till bottom of dish is covered in a thin layer. Place a spoonful of filling at one end of each of the eggplant slices. Roll the slice around the filling and place it seam-side down in the dish on top of the tomato sauce. Spoon a tablespoon of cream (or less) over each roll to moisten. Bake until the edges of sauce around the sides of the dish are dark and the rolls are nicely caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes. Garnish with the parmesan before serving.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Italian, eggplant, involtini, tomato sauce, ricotta
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132 Comments on “Eggplant Involtini”
After slicing eggplant I cook the slices “as is” in a grill pan on my stove top. I leave them long enough on each side to get deep grill marks. I like the smokey flavor that this technique adds. It also temporarily drys the eggplant and makes the slices pliable at the same time. I’ve also used these “grilled” eggplant slices as a bread substitute for hamburger buns and flour tortillas. If you save unused grilled slices in the frig they get slimy but are still tasty. I don’t ever waste food.
Nice! So many great ideas — healthy, too. Thanks!
Do you think you could use crushed pig rinds instead of bread crumbs? That is what I generally use when I am coating. However, this is in the cheese, so I did not know if it would work.
Sure thing! That sounds delicious. The breadcrumbs, I think, don’t play a huge role here.
Made it vegan and turned out terrific. Used tofu, garlic, basil, lemon peel all blended in a processor until smooth. I used vegan store-bought Parmesan for the topping. Delish! Thank you for the inspiring recipe.
Wonderful to hear this! Love the vegan adaptation. Thanks for writing in!
Ive made this recipe several times now and everyone has absolutely loved it!!! The lemon ricotta mixture tastes so fresh and is a good balance to the fried eggplant slices.
Do you know if this recipe freezes well though? Thanks!
So happy to hear this, Ilana! I would imagine it would freeze well, but I can’t say for sure. Would you freeze before or after you bake the rolls? I’m thinking it would be nicer to freeze before and then to bake directly from the freezer, maybe covered with foil first, then uncovered to brown?
That’s what I was thinking as well! I will give it a try 🙂 Thank you for your reply!
This was the best eggplant involvini I have had! I did not use as much lemon juice as recipe called for. I will definitely make this again. Thank you for sharing the recipe.
I absolutely love this recipe. I’ve made it multiple times and it is always a hit. Thanks, Alex, AGAIN, for a wonderful recipe.
So happy to hear this, Anne!
Hi Alex – I’m making this for a dinner party tonight and was hoping you could recommend a side dish. I’m serving this w/ Ina’s roasted asparagus and peasant bread (duh) but think I need another item on the plate. I’m thinking pasta or gnocchi but….. We will be starting w/ an arugula salad. Thanks for any advice.
Hi Anne! Lovely menu. Pasta or gnocchi sounds really nice. Somehow orzo always feels like a summery pasta to me? Or Israeli couscous, which you can toast in the skillet till it gets brown before you add the water so it gets some color. This brown butter orzo risotto is an old favorite, buy maybe not as summery as simply boiling it and dressing it with butter/herbs or whatever you have in mind. https://alexandracooks.com/2012/10/03/dinner-in-30-minutes-whole-grilled-trout-steamed-green-beans-brown-butter-orzo-risotto/
Also, you’ve seen the simpler version of this recipe, right? https://alexandracooks.com/2016/08/16/eggplant-involtini-simplified/ I roast the eggplant instead of frying them.
Thank you!!!! I love the idea of couscous or orzo and have both in my pantry! Thanks for the suggestion. And I’m definitely making the simplified version. I need this after working all day.
I grilled the eggplant on my panini maker and it turned out perfectly. The filling is absolutely delish and the whole dish came together quickly and easily.
Love this idea! Thanks so much for writing and for sharing your notes about the panini maker! So great 🙂
Simple and delicious. I’ve made this a couple of times and now I am experimenting – adding feta to the ricotta and switching out the thyme with oregano. It also came out great. Thanks Ali!
Great to hear, Kathleen! Thanks so much for writing 🙂 🙂 🙂 I love feta, so I know I would love that variation.