Eggplant Rollatini

Eggplant Rollatini

I tasted Eggplant Rollatini just recently for the very first time. It wasn’t a dish I grew up on like Eggplant Parmigiana. And I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve always been fickle about it. It’s touch and go with me. One day I love it, the next I don’t. It all depends on the eggplant itself. It has to be cooked just right.

Not mushy or too thickly sliced; tender with a bit of firmness. Like the eggplant rollatini I tasted off my Dad’s plate at this tiny, family-owned Italian place on the side of the highway that I passed by thousands of times without stopping because it looked like a dirty, old shack. How was I to know? Looks really are deceiving. It’s an undiscovered gem of a place. I loved the rollatini and knew the moment I tasted it I would be recreating it. It is made by rolling up long slices of eggplant filled with ricotta and mozzarella, then smothering it in sauce and more mozzarella, and then baking it to a bubbly, molten finish. The ricotta is what makes it different from parmigiana. It’s a combo of two classics: lasagna and parmesan. If your looking for something different give this a try.

Eggplant Rollatini

Eggplant Rollatini
(by Reeni)
Eggplant (about 3 pounds)
Sea salt and fresh pepper
15 ounces Ricotta Cheese
2 cups Mozzarella, shredded
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup fresh Parsley, chopped
1 jar of good Tomato sauce(like Barila), or 2-3 cups homemade
Basil for sprinkling over top
Extra-Virgin Olive oil, for serving
Parmesan, fresh grated, for serving
1. Peel and slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch thick slices length-wise by cutting off each end and then standing it upright. Cut in half and then carefully cut the slices starting from the inside out.
2. In a large colander layer the slices sprinkling each side generously with salt. Let sit for 20 minutes. Press gently down on them to squeeze any excess water out of them. Use a damp paper towel to brush off the salt.
3. Cook the eggplant by gently grilling them(thinly brush over them with olive oil) or dipping them in egg then seasoned bread crumbs or flour and pan frying them in a small amount of oil on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. You can also bake it on a baking sheet in a single layer. You still want the eggplant to have some firmness to it – don’t cook it until it becomes mushy.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl combine Ricotta, 1 cup of the Mozzarella, the beaten egg and the parsley.
5. Spray a 9×13 baking/casserole pan with baking spray and coat the bottom with a thin layer of sauce.
6. Add about two tablespoons of the ricotta mixture to the large end of the eggplant. Carefully roll up and place seam side down in the pan. Continue until they are all rolled.
7. Cover each one with sauce and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella evenly over the top. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle basil over the top.
8. Bake for about 30 minutes until bubbly and golden brown on top. Let set for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with a drizzle of Olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

Eggplant Rollatini

Eggplant Rollatini

Ratatouille Pasta

Ratatouille Pasta

I am honored to announce I will be hosting Presto Pasta Nights this week!
For those of you who don’t know – it’s a weekly pasta event for bloggers that was started by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. Any dish that includes pasta in one of its many forms is eligible. Be sure to mention that you are submitting it to Presto Pasta Nights with a link to the website and mention that I am hosting with a link back to me. Then send me your entries: cinnamonyspice (at) gmail (dot) com and cc ruth (at) 4everykitchen (dot) com by Friday the 18th (by 3 p.m.) with the permalink, your name, your blog’s name, and the name of your dish. Check the submission guidelines for more information. Don’t forget to check back here on Friday night for the round-up of carbilicious deliciousness!

presto pasta nights

My entry is this nourishing and wholesome vegetable-packed Ratatouille pasta. Thinly sliced zucchini and eggplant are sauted and flavored with garlic, onion and Italian seasonings then simmered with tomatoes and artichokes to make this quick, easy and light dish.

This is a new favorite of mine that I actually get cravings for. It’s given me a new appreciation for zucchini, a veggie I’ve not thought of fondly in the past. This is a very forgiving recipe; add more veggies or omit one. My Mom makes it with just zucchini and tomato. This recipe grew from hers.

The secret here is to slice the zucchini and eggplant real thin and then into bite-size pieces or you will end-up with thick slices of mushy, unappealing vegetables. I eat this as a main dish but it may not be hearty enough for some. Serve it as a side or toss in some cooked protein like chicken or shrimp if that’s the case. Serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin Olive oil, generously topped with Parmesan and crusty bread.

Ratatouille Pasta

Ratatouille Pasta
(by Reeni)(serves 3 as a main dish)
1 large Yellow Onion, diced
Olive oil for sauteing
Sea salt and fresh pepper
4 cloves Garlic, minced
3 cups Zucchini, peeled, thinly sliced(1/8 of an inch), cut into bite size pieces
3 cups Eggplant, peeled, thinly sliced(1/8 of an inch), cut into bite size pieces
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
14 ounce can of Artichokes, rinsed, chopped into bite size pieces
14 ounce can Diced Tomatoes
8 ounces Spaghetti (like Barila Whole Grain)
Extra Virgin Olive oil, for serving
Fresh grated Parmesan or Romano, for serving
1. Saute the yellow onion in a large skillet or saute pan with enough Olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, over medium-low heat until tender and translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, saute until fragrant.
2. Add another tablespoon of Olive oil and the zucchini, eggplant and Italian seasoning. Continue sauteing until the zucchini and eggplant start to break down and become limp and tender.
3. Add the artichokes and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer for ten – fifteen minutes. Taste and re-season if needed.
4. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti to al dente according to package directions.
5 Toss with pasta and serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin Olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

Do you eat whole wheat or whole grain pastas? Have a hard time convincing your family to eat them? I have to share another secret: Barila Whole Grain tastes just like regular pasta. It has the same exact texture, flavor, and consistency. I’ve tried a lot of different whole wheat/grain ones where the texture or flavor was weird. I promise you this is not. Your family won’t even know the difference if you tell them it’s regular pasta. I promise.

Ratatouille Pasta

Ratatouille Pasta on FoodistaRatatouille Pasta

Eggplant Parmesan

Mama's Eggplant Parmesan w/ Sausage

My Mom makes the best Eggplant Parmesan in the world! Never mushy, bitter or greasy. Just plain perfect. Making this dish is something of an inexact science, from the size of the eggplant to how much sauce you’ll need. But it doesn’t have to be exact for it to work. It’s very forgiving, All you really need is eggplant, mozzarella, and a good sauce. Anything aside from that, like the Italian sausage topping this one is a bonus.

I know that frying the eggplant is a turn-off and can be time-consuming. Not to mention messy. This is an occasional treat for us. You can also grill or roast the eggplant slices. But this is the best way for preventing  the mushiness I talked about earlier.

Mama's Eggplant Parmesan w/ Sausage

Mama’s Eggplant Parmesan
(courtesy of my Mom)

eggplant (about 1 and 1/2 to 2 pounds)
Sea salt or kosher salt
Italian Sausage 12 ounces
Canola oil, for frying
Seasoned Italian Bread Crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Home-made sauce or 2 jars prepared
1 pound Mozzarella, shredded

Peel the eggplant and slice crosswise into 1/4-inch rounds. In a large colander layer the eggplant, sprinkling each layer with salt. Let drain while getting the sauce started, about 20 minutes.

Mama's Eggplant Parmesan w/ Sausage

Home-made Sauce
(by Reeni)

1 large onion, diced
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomato paste
28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes (like Tuttarosa)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons dried Italian Seasonings (We use a mix that has basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram and rosemary in it)
1 teaspoon dried sage
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt (to start and more to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper (to start and more to taste)
Pinch of sugar

If adding sausage slice in 1-inch slices. In a large heavy-bottomed pan saute the sausage and onion in Olive Oil until soft; add garlic and saute for another minute or two.

Add tomato paste. Stir it into the onion and garlic mixture and let it heat through. Add tomatoes, water, and seasonings including bay leaves, salt, pepper and pinch of sugar.

Simmer for 30-40 minutes. Taste and add salt/pepper and more dried seasonings if needed. Remove bay leaves before assembling the Parmesan.

While the sauce is simmering fry up your eggplant. Brush off the excess salt with a paper towel at the same time drying off any moisture on the eggplant slices.

In a large, deep-sided skillet add about 1/2 inch of Canola oil, heat on medium. While the oil heats set up the ‘dredging’ station. In a shallow bowl place the egg, and in another shallow bowl breadcrumbs. Dip the eggplant into the egg and then the bread crumbs, shaking off excess. Fry the eggplant slices in batches draining on paper towels. You will need to add more oil as needed. When all the eggplant slices are fried you are ready to assemble.

In a large casserole dish (11×13) start by spraying it with baking spray. Add a thin layer of sauce to cover the bottom. Then a layer of eggplant to cover the bottom, topped with sauce, then mozzarella, and repeating until you reach the top, leaving enough room to finish with a layer of mozzarella covered by the sausage slices. You will most likely have three layers depending on how shallow the casserole dish is.

Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Printable Recipes

Mama's Eggplant Parmesan w/ Sausage

Caramelized Eggplant Pasta with Arugula Pumpkin Seed Pesto Sauce

Caramelized Eggplant Farfalle & Arugula Pesto

I have a  fancy pasta recipe for you today made with bow-tie pasta, caramelized eggplant, Roma tomatoes and pumpkin-arugula pesto.
I broke all the rules with my pesto sauce. It’s everything except traditional with it’s toasty Pumpkins seeds and baby ‘rocket’ leaves. The Farfalle pasta does a stellar job of attracting the pesto. You can see it sticking to even the smallest nooks and crannies. The caramelized eggplant takes a bit of patience but is well worth it. Eggplant has a high water content and just like a sponge it soaks up the oil it’s cooked in. You need to tend to it like a newborn baby. Even if you’re not a fan of eggplant I bid you to give this a try. It alters the taste immensely taking on a deep, smoky flavor. The mushy texture that it usually has disappears.

Caramelized Eggplant Pasta & Arugula Pesto

Caramelized Eggplant Pasta and Arugula Pesto
(by Reeni)

1 eggplant, about 1-11/2 pounds, peeled, sliced into ½ inch slices and cut into 2-inch pieces
Olive oil, for frying
8 oz Farfalle pasta
1 cup Roma tomatoes, seeds taken out, diced
Pumpkin-Arugula Pesto(recipe to follow)
Romano or Parmesan, freshly grated, for serving

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant and saute until browned. It will closely resemble caramelized onions when ready. Add a little bit of oil (a teaspoon or so) at a time as needed. The eggplant will soak up a lot of it. If you add to much it will take longer to caramelize. As the eggplant cooks you will need to turn the pan down a bit to prevent burning.

Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente while the eggplant is cooking. Drain and add the pasta right back to the pan it was cooked in. The little bit of water left on the pasta will steam off from the heat in the pan. Add enough of the pesto to just coat the pasta.

When the eggplant is a dark brown color it is ready. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the pasta with the eggplant and tomatoes, adding in pesto until everything is well coated. Serve hot or chilled with fresh shredded Pecorino Romano or Parmesan.

Printable Recipe

Caramelized Eggplant Farfalle & Arugula Pesto

Pumpkin-Arugula Pesto

½ cup Pumpkin(Pepita) Seeds, raw and unsalted
1 clove garlic
2 cups baby Arugula leaves
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ teaspoon fresh squeezed lime juice
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan

Toast the Pumpkin Seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until they take on a light golden brown, about ten minutes mixing every minute or two. They will pop and may puff up. Let cool.

Add them to your food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients except the cheese. Pulse until smooth. Add Parmesan and pulse until smooth again. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. 

Printable Pesto Recipe

Caramelized Eggplant Farfalle & Arugula Pesto