“Rollatini” are little filled roll-ups made with eggplant. These eggplant roll-ups, stuffed with ricotta cheese and fresh basil, are fun to dip into the tomato sauce. Children will enjoy helping with this dish. Once the eggplant has been grilled, kids can fill and roll the eggplant slices themselves. Make this basic recipe, or experiment with other filling ingredients – try adding chopped cooked spinach, pine nuts, or dried currants, other herbs or cheeses. Eat them for lunch, or as a supper vegetable dish.
makes about 6-8 rollatini
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 small eggplant, about 8 ounces, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1⁄4 inch slices
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, separated, plus more for brushing eggplants
~ salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 large basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmigiano Reggiano, or Asiago, or ricotta salata)
1 cup cored, peeled, and seeded ripe heirloom tomatoes
- Spoon the ricotta into a fine-mesh sieve or colander lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth. Set the sieve over a bowl and wrap the ricotta with plastic wrap. Set the bowl and sieve in the refrigerator overnight, or up to 24 hours. Discard the liquid that accumulates in the bowl.
- Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and season them with salt. Grill them over a bed of hot coals until they are tender and lightly browned. They should not be mushy. Line up the grilled eggplant slices on a baking sheet.
- Make the filling. Combine the drained ricotta, chopped basil leaves, and grated cheese. Stir in 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and season the mixture with salt and pepper.
- Make the tomato sauce. Place the prepared tomatoes in a blender or food processor and blend or process until pureed. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream and blend until smooth. Pass the mixture through a sieve and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Place a dollop of filling at the widest end of the eggplant slice. Beginning at the end with the filling, roll up the filling into the eggplant slice. Repeat with remaining eggplant. Serve with tomato sauce for dipping.
from Kathryn LaSusa Yeomans, The Farmers' Feast