Saturday, September 5, 2009

Eggplant Rollatini

The inspiration for tonight's dinner came once again from Deborah Madison's endless encyclopedia of produce, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I have said it before and I will say it again, this books is valuable for anyone who eats lots of veggies or wants to eat lots of veggies. You will never be at a loss for how to prepare and eat something from the ground.

The books has several recipes for eggplant rollatini, a traditional Italian-style dish that stuffs long strips of eggplant full of cheeses and other goodies, then breads and fries them before smothering them with more cheeses and goodies. Madison's recipes are not so gooey as that, but I strayed in order to be able to use up the contents of my fridge.

What resulted was a very simple "stuffing" of browned ground turkey (with plenty of onions and garlic), wilted arugula, and a bit of grated cheese, all rolled into some briefly grilled eggplant strips and coated in tomato sauce. I imagine it was just as filling as its heavier, greasier counterparts, but without all the Tums afterward.

As usual, take this recipe as little more than a guideline and fill your rollatini with whatever you have lying around. But take note, the "baking" time is just to warm everything through. You want all your components to be mostly cooked by the time they hit the oven for the final melding.
Eggplant Rollatini
serves 2-3; total time about 45 minutes; works great as leftovers

1 medium eggplant, sliced longways into 1/2-inch strips (my eggplant made exactly 6)
3 cups arugula (or spinach or other leafy green)
1/4 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 tsp dry basil
1/4 cup good melting cheese (mozzarella, gruyere, monty jack, etc.), grated
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
1 - 1 1/2 cups prepared tomato sauce
salt and pepper
  1. Season with salt and pepper, then grill, saute, fry, or broil your eggplant strips until they are malleable, but not cooked all the way through (I used the George Foreman). Stack and keep warm.
  2. Cover the bottom of a large skillet with water and heat over medium-high heat. Add greens and stir, then cover and let wilt 1-2 minutes. Set greens in a colander to drain and return skillet to stove. When slightly cool, squeeze excess moisture out of greens and give them a rough chop. (You can skip this step entirely and just use frozen, chopped spinach, defrosted.)
  3. Film the bottom of skillet with olive oil and return to medium-high heat. Add onions and pinch of salt and cook until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in turkey and cook until brown, seasoning with basil, salt and pepper. If you need to, add more oil as you go. When nice and brown, transfer meat to a bowl and add greens and cheeses. Stir to distribute.

  4. Now, grab a small baking pan and pour in about 1/3 cup of your tomato sauce; spread to cover the bottom. On a clean surface, lay out your eggplant slices and place a heaping spoonful of filling on fatter end. Roll up entirely and place seam-down into baking sheet. Repeat until eggplant or filling is gone. If you run out of eggplant first and have extra filling, just sprinkle it around the edges of the eggplant and bake it right alongside. A little extra never hurt. Top generously with more tomato sauce, cover, and bake in a 375ยบ oven for about 30 minutes. If you want, grate a little more parmesan cheese over top.
(proof that the best-tasting food is often the ugliest)

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