Contains: Nightshades, dairy. Is: Gluten-free, vegetarian.
Alas, I didn’t get my act together for my 7 AM EST usual deadline for my Friday Recipe. First one of the year, too. Been wanting to make an eggplant roulade for awhile, and I wanted to start the year off with a tasty vegetarian dish.
Eggplant (Solanum melongena), also known as aubergine or brinjal, in various parts of the world, is a member of the nightshade family, and hails originally from Asia, probably southeast Asia.
Eggplant roulade is one of my favorite ways for eating eggplant. Most frequently, eggplant roulade uses tomato, but I chose to use tomatillos (there were a few in the fridge), which brings us an East meets West dish.
You can use a large European-style eggplant, with its thick skin, but I decided to go with as large an Asian eggplant as I could find. Reason being as the skin is thinner, and to my tastes, more edible. Choose what works for you, the flesh part tastes the same.
More ingredient notes at the end of the recipe.
Prep Time: 20 minutes.
Cook Time: 5 minutes to roast the eggplant + 25 minutes to sauté the stuffing/topping + 30 minutes to bake the dish.
Rest Time: Just a couple so you don’t burn your tongue.
Serves: 2 as a main.
Cuisine: Several cultures come together for a rumble, but probably owes a lot to Italian & Greek.
Leftovers?: Sure. Bake or nuke.
Aubergine/Eggplant Roulade with Tomatillos
Note: this recipe makes more stuffing/topping than you actually need. Hey, I enjoyed the rest with a spoon.
- 1 eggplant, about 9 ounces / 250 grams. (Or larger, to use more of that stuffing!)
- 2 tomatillos, peeled, diced.
- 1/2 small onion, peeled, diced.
- 3 marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
- 1/2 Anjou pear, de-pitted and chopped
- 3.5 ounces / 100 grams soft goat cheese, herbed or plain. (You can sub in Feta).
- 3.5 ounces / 100 grams mozzarella, sliced
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon balsamic reduction (fruit flavored if you can – I used blood orange)
- About 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Optional Cilantro as garnish.
- Optional Parmigiano Reggiano cheese as a garnish.
- Salt for the eggplant to draw out bitterness.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 F / 177 C.
Slice the aubergine lengthwise into as fine of slices as you can, say aim for 1/8th inch, though a little thicker is fine. A mandolin can be helpful (watch those fingers!), otherwise a very sharp knife.
Lay out the slices on a flat surface, dust lightly with salt, flip over, dust again. This will draw out excess bitterness. Let sit about ten minutes while you go about other prep.
In a oven-safe pan, wipe down the surface with a little olive oil. Lay down the slices of eggplant. Roast for five minutes and remove (but keep the heat on). This will make the slices more flexible for rolling up.
In a skillet, add a little olive oil, and sauté the diced onion for about 10 minutes, or until at least translucent. Slightly browned is fine, too.
Toss in the tomatillo, pear, oregano, thyme and ground pepper, stir. Sauté about 15 minutes, while much of the liquid is driven off.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, chop and mash the goat cheese (feta?) and the mozzarella together, adding the balsamic reduction.
Wipe off excess salt from the eggplant/aubergine slices.
Mix the sautéed portion from the skillet into the cheese/balsamic mixture.
Put a dollop on the end of each slice of aubergine/eggplant, and roll up. Lay each roll up onto a greased pan, then, when all are rolled, cover with stuffing/topping.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, checking at 25, and being prepared to go to 35 minutes.
Garnish, as desired, with Parmigiano Reggiano and/or fresh cilantro. (Unfortunately for photography, my cilantro went on walk-about; it will turn up for the second serving.)
If at all possible, find the balled mozzarella that are sometimes made fresh in a few grocery stores. Unfortunately not in all, but if it is balled up, it’s far likely got more flavor than the sheets of the stuff you may see in other supermarkets. Back in CT, I had one shopping venue where I could actually watch them make this stuff. No such luck finding same here in MA, yet. We get as close as we can.
Yes, tomato sauce would be lovely with this. I plan on making and canning my own tomato sauce again next summer as I’ve done in the past (from tasty home-grown or farmers’ market tomatoes). Finding quality tomato sauce with no added sugars and so forth, packed in glass jars (not in aluminum cans, which imparts that metallic taste) is hard to do, and when I do, they come in really large jars that I only want to open when I’m planning on a really large meal, or a bunch of smaller meals revolving around tomato sauce within a short period of time… I’m not a real fan of spaghetti and meatballs, in other words. Definitely, should you choose, grab some authentically healthy tomato sauce, and drizzle over the roulades! But tomatillos are a great substitute.
Yes, you can use your generic Kraft Parmesan “cheese” sprinkles, but real Parmesan it is not. (In most countries the word cannot be used unless the stuff is actually Parmigiano-Reggiano imported from Italy, which in the US is not necessarily the case.) I do have a container of “Fresh Grated Parmigiano Reggiano” that comes from Italy, but since it is previously-grated, it does contain cellulose (inert, prevents clumping while sitting around) but in the future I’m getting the real block, and shaving off what I need when I need it. It’s hardy in your fridge for a rather LONG period of time.) Tastes better, too.
On Feta: I find it too salty. That’s why you won’t see it in my recipes. But either this or soft goat cheese works for this dish. A lot of friends adore feta!!! GO with your heart.
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