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Easy Eggplant Involtini

Karen D
Posted by Karen D on Apr 11, 2023

 

My husband and I love eggplant, and I never tire of finding different ways to prepare it. “Involtini” translates to “rolls” or “little bundles,” and I think I’ve truly fallen in love with these little bundles of eggplant wrapped around a seasoned mixture of ricotta. Ease of preparation, components that can be made ahead of time, a great meatless addition to my menu rotation – everything about these makes them as enjoyable to make as to eat.

One thing about eggplant that can be off-putting is that it frequently requires salting to dehydrate it a bit, typically for at least 30 minutes. That’s a step I often forget to get going ahead of time – and then I don’t want to have to work it into my dinner prep timeline. Another is that eggplant is often fried, which can be messier than I’d like for an average weeknight dinner. With these eggplant involtini, there is no salting involved (time saver) and the eggplant is baked instead of fried, so my oven does the work and my kitchen stays cleaner!

Finally, there are a few things that can be prepared ahead of time, streamlining the process of getting dinner on the table even more. First, the marinara sauce can be either homemade or your favorite purchased variety. I always seem to have homemade marinara in my freezer, and it’s perfect for instances like this. Regardless of whether you go the homemade route or use store-bought, warm it up and keep it warm as you progress through the recipe. This recipe assumes that you have marinara readily available in your kitchen, so preparing it is not included in this recipe.

The second item that may be prepared ahead is slicing and baking the eggplant slices. You must let them cool a bit before you fill and roll them anyway, so why not make them earlier in the day, or even the day before? For this recipe, however, we’ll be preparing the eggplant as part of the recipe since I’ll be walking you through the process. Total time for making these eggplant involtini is about one hour.

Lastly, the ricotta filling may also be prepared ahead. In this recipe, you’ll be preparing it while the eggplant slices are baking, just to utilize your time more efficiently. You can follow the same process if you’re slicing and baking the eggplant slices ahead of time. If you decide to make the filling ahead of time, just cover it and refrigerate it if you’re not using it within a couple of hours.

eggplantI would like to add a note about the eggplant you will use. Here I’ve used the very common globe eggplants that you’ll find in most grocery stores. In making these in the past, I have also used the more slender and longer Japanese (or Chinese) eggplants. Either will work. You will be rolling the involtini from top to bottom, so the difference will be in the width of your final little bundle. If I am making these as an appetizer, I prefer the Japanese eggplants since they are more in line with a “one- or two-bite” appetizer size. Since Japanese eggplants are generally narrower than globe eggplants, you will need more than two for this same recipe. Either way, you want eggplants that are as straight as possible – it will simply make it easier to slice them evenly.

Sound delicious enough yet? Let’s get started!

 

Eggplant Involtini

Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe 

Serves: 2-4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 40-45 minutes

Inactive time: 5-10 minutes

 

For the eggplant:

2 globe eggplants, each about 12 oz, as straight as possible

About 1/4 cup olive oil for brushing (I like to pour it into a small bowl for easy access)

Kosher salt for seasoning

Black pepper for seasoning

At least 1.5 cups warm marinara sauce (either homemade or store-bought), more if you want extra sauce for serving

Freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

For the filling:

3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs (these add body to the ricotta mixture, absorbing excess moisture; I add them, but feel free to omit)

5 cups whole milk ricotta

Grated zest from 1-2 lemons

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

eggplant mise1. Preheat the oven to 425⁰ F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

2. Slice off the tops of each eggplant. Although it’s not necessary, I also slice about 1/8" off the bottom of each eggplant.

3. Slice about 1/8” off one side of each eggplant. This is intended to avoid a slice of eggplant with “skin only” on one side. I like to keep these small slices aside to use for something else. For example, roasting them on their own for eggplant sandwiches or adding to salads is a real treat! Here’s a photo of the bit I sliced off; you can see that the slice does not even go all the way to the bottom of the eggplant.

slicing eggplant4. Slice the eggplants vertically into approximately 1/4” slices and place them onto the parchment-lined sheet pans. Note that when you are finished slicing the eggplant, you will have a second “skin only” slice to set aside with the first one.

5. Brush each of the eggplant slices with olive oil. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

slices on trays6. Place the sheet pans in the oven and roast for 10 minutes.

7. While the eggplant is roasting, prepare the filling. Simply combine all ingredients in a bowl, blending them well. Give the mixture a taste to see if it needs any more salt, correcting as necessary.

8. Remove the sheet pans from the oven and flip the eggplant slices with tongs. Brush the second side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

9. Roast for 8-10 minutes more until the slices begin to turn golden. If some areas begin to char a bit, don’t worry, they will still be “rollable”.

10. Remove the sheet pans from the oven and let cool until you can handle the eggplant slices comfortably, about 5-10 minutes.

cooked eggplantNote: As mentioned in the introduction to this recipe, the eggplant slices may be prepared ahead of time to this point. If you will be using them within a few hours, you can cover the completely cooled sheet pans with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature. If you are preparing them further ahead than this, you should cover and refrigerate them.

11. While waiting for the eggplant slices to cool, ladle about 3/4 cup of marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9”-10” round baking dish. You only need enough to cover the bottom of the dish. Keep the remaining sauce warm.

12. Place about 2 teaspoons of filling at the widest end of the eggplant slices. You may use a bit more or a bit less, depending on the size of the slice – and depending on how much filling you personally prefer inside of each little bundle.

filling on eggplant13. Now roll the eggplant slices, starting at the ricotta end. They should turn out something like this:

eggplant roll14. Place each involtini seam-side down in the sauce-lined baking dish. Brush the tops with olive oil.

eggplant in dish15. Place the baking dish in the oven and roast for about 25 minutes. You want the edges of the sauce around the sides of the dish to be dark and the rolls to be nicely caramelized.

16. Remove the involtini from the oven. If desired, drizzle with olive oil. Top with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

finished eggplant involtini17. The eggplant involtini may be enjoyed on its own, or you can serve it over a small pasta such as orzo. Add warm marinara, as desired.

These days, I think we can all agree that meatless meals do not have to be boring! But sometimes we are at a loss for something unique, something with a different flavor profile. If these Italian Eggplant Involtini appeal to you, take a look at our upcoming Hands-On Vegetarian Mediterranean class or Hands-On Vegetarian Mexican class – both are sure to satisfy!

See our class calendar

Yield: 2-4
Author: Karen Dante
Eggplant Involtini

Eggplant Involtini

Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 45 MinInactive time: 5 MinTotal time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

For the eggplant
  • 2 globe eggplants, each about 12 oz, as straight as possible
  • About 1/4 cup olive oil for brushing (I like to pour it into a small bowl for easy access)
  • Kosher salt for seasoning
  • Black pepper for seasoning
  • At least 1.5 cups warm marinara sauce (either homemade or store-bought), more if you want extra sauce for serving
  • Freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving
For the filling
  • 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs (these add body to the ricotta mixture, absorbing excess moisture; I add them, but feel free to omit)
  • 5 cups whole milk ricotta
  • Grated zest from 1-2 lemons
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425⁰ F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. Slice off the tops of each eggplant. Although it’s not necessary, I also slice about 1/8" off the bottom of each eggplant.
  3. Slice about 1/8” off one side of each eggplant. This is intended to avoid a slice of eggplant with “skin only” on one side. I like to keep these small slices aside to use for something else. For example, roasting them on their own for eggplant sandwiches or adding to salads is a real treat! Here’s a photo of the bit I sliced off; you can see that the slice does not even go all the way to the bottom of the eggplant.
  4. Slice the eggplants vertically into approximately 1/4” slices and place them onto the parchment-lined sheet pans. Note that when you are finished slicing the eggplant, you will have a second “skin only” slice to set aside with the first one.
  5. Brush each of the eggplant slices with olive oil. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  6. Place the sheet pans in the oven and roast for 10 minutes.
  7. While the eggplant is roasting, prepare the filling. Simply combine all ingredients in a bowl, blending them well. Give the mixture a taste to see if it needs any more salt, correcting as necessary.
  8. Remove the sheet pans from the oven and flip the eggplant slices with tongs. Brush the second side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  9. Roast for 8-10 minutes more until the slices begin to turn golden. If some areas begin to char a bit, don’t worry, they will still be “rollable”.
  10. Remove the sheet pans from the oven and let cool until you can handle the eggplant slices comfortably, about 5-10 minutes.
  11. While waiting for the eggplant slices to cool, ladle about 3/4 cup of marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9”-10” round baking dish. You only need enough to cover the bottom of the dish. Keep the remaining sauce warm.
  12. Place about 2 teaspoons of filling at the widest end of the eggplant slices. You may use a bit more or a bit less, depending on the size of the slice – and depending on how much filling you personally prefer inside of each little bundle.
  13. Now roll the eggplant slices, starting at the ricotta end. They should turn out something like this:
  14. Place each involtini seam-side down in the sauce-lined baking dish. Brush the tops with olive oil.
  15. Place the baking dish in the oven and roast for about 25 minutes. You want the edges of the sauce around the sides of the dish to be dark and the rolls to be nicely caramelized.
  16. Remove the involtini from the oven. If desired, drizzle with olive oil. Top with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  17. The eggplant involtini may be enjoyed on its own, or you can serve it over a small pasta such as orzo. Add warm marinara, as desired.

Topics: vegetable, vegetarian, eggplant, Italian, Recipes, italian home cooking, eggplant involtini

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