Aubergine rollatini

  • 3 medium-sized aubergines
  • 120ml cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Can vegetable spray
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 900g ricotta cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 60g cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 2 tin crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 20 basil leaves, chiffonaded
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, optional
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 480ml fresh tomato sauce, recipe follows
1) Preheat the griddle pan and preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5.

2) Place a rack over a large baking sheet. Cut the two ends off the aubergine. Cut the aubergine lengthwise, into 1 1/4 cm-thick slices. Arrange aubergine slices onto rack. Sprinkle with sea salt to help remove excess moisture and any bitterness from the aubergine. Set aside for about 10 to 15 minutes.

3) Rinse off the salt from the aubergine and pat dry with a towel. Spray hot griddle pan liberally with vegetable spray and then place aubergine slices on the griddle until lightly browned on each side and tender, about 4 minutes per side. Remove slices from the griddle pan and allow to cool.

4) In a large bowl, beat eggs until lightly scrambled. Mix the ricotta in with the egg. Add mozzarella, 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts, and gently combine. Fold in basil just to combine. Do not over mix.

5) Place a tablespoon of the cheese mixture on one end of the aubergine and roll up tightly. Place the aubergine rollatini into a greased (with olive oil) 23-by-33 cm baking dish, seam side down. Continue with remaining aubergine.

6) Evenly distribute the tomato sauce on top of the aubergine rollatini. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 5 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes. When cooked, drizzle the top with extra-virgin olive oil.

Tomato sauce:

1) In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and bay leaves and simmer uncovered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to round out the flavours.

2) Add half of the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.

If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze for up to 6 months.

Yield: 6 cups
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Ease of preparation: Easy

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