Italian Eggplant Ricotta Rollatini
Since we are on an Italian spree, we thought we’ll give you all a recipe thats refreshing, not overdone and can be made with simple ingredients from our kitchen staples. We hate it too when one has to go from store to store for some really exotic and inaccessible ingredients.
So, if you ever thought… what do Italians eat for a meal, other than pasta – then it is probably this! There are numerous other similar recipes which we will bring to you really soon.
For this you need 3 basic garden fresh ingredients. Spinach, tomatoes, long eggplant/brinjals and garlic. Other than this, we will be using 3 types of Italian cheeses.
There’s no Italian meal without a cheese. Primarily, we need ricotta, a fresh Italian cheese. You can either use store-bought or use our ricotta recipe. Other than that we have used parmigiano reggiano for the flavour and mozzarella for that stringy topping.
If you don’t have parmigiano reggiano, you can simply use parmesan. The difference is that parmigiano reggiano is the original cheese from the Italian city of Parma near Rome. Only cheese from Parma can be called parmigiano reggiano as it comes under the Protected Designations of Origin (PDO). They have laws guiding the ageing and the cheese-making process. Similar cheese from any other place outside of this city can be called parmesan but should be made in a similar way.
In this picture we are with Federica Corradi and her uncle Leonardo Corradi in their cheese factory in Parma.
So if you get parmigiano reggiano its definitely from Parma because nobody else can call it that. We learnt this during our visit to Casearia Corradi, a family-run cheese factory in Parma, Italy. In the picture above, you can see the many wheels of parmigiano reggiano being aged as per the lawful guidelines for cheese-makers in Parma.
Take the pureed and sieved tomatoes in a pan. Let it bubble and cook for 20-25min or till they have reduced and changed colour like in the pictures above. Remove from flame, add garlic, salt and olive oil. Then leave to cool.
To blanch the spinach, boil water in a saucepan, put the spinach leaves in it for 2-3 minutes and then strain. DO NOT COVER while blanching. Once blanched, chop it roughly to get minced spinach.
In a bowl, take the chopped spinach, ricotta cheese, parmigiano reggiano, salt and pepper. Make a mixture and keep aside.
Slice the eggplant into long strips like in the image above.
Drizzle with salt and olive oil and grill on the pan till they’re slightly cooked and start turning golden.
Put the filling on one end of the eggplant strip and roll it up firmly. Spread some of the tomato sauce on the base of a baking dish. Arrange the eggplant rolls in the dish.
At this stage preheat your oven at 190° C.
Spread the remaining tomato sauce over the eggplant rolls. Cover them evenly.
Tear the mozzarella cheese and top it with that.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
Take it out of the oven and garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve hot while the cheese is still melted and soft.
Recipe: Italian Eggplant Ricotta Rollatini
500gm Long Brinjal/Eggplant 250gm Spinach 1kg Tomatoes 125gm fresh ricotta cheese, or half of our homemade ricotta recipe 100 gm Mozzarella Cheese 50 gm Parmesan Cheese/cheese, grated 8-10 cloves Garlic, minced 15-18 Fresh Basil leaves Extra Virgin Olive oil Salt Freshly crushed pepper
Puree the tomatoes and strain them to remove the seeds and peel. Cook the tomato pulp on medium heat for 20-25 minutes or till it has reduced to half. Add the minced garlic, salt and 3-4tbs olive oil and leave to cool.
Blanch the spinach in boiling water and drain to remove all the water. Chop it roughly to get a minced spinach. To the fresh ricotta add parmesan cheese, blanched spinach, 2-3 basil leaves chopped, salt and pepper. Mix well and keep aside.
Slice the brinjal as thin as possible lengthwise. Drizzle with some salt and olive oil to coat well. Grill on a hot pan on both sides till golden brown and soft. Keep aside.
Preheat the oven to 190°C. In a baking dish put a layer of the tomato sauce. Put a little cheese filling on the brinjal and roll it up. Arrange these over the tomato sauce in the dish seam side down.
Finish off by pouring the tomato sauce over the rolled brinjal. Tear and put mozzarella cheese over it and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and put the basil leaves on top. Serve immediately.