A Southern Grace: involuntary involtini

August 23, 2016

involuntary involtini


On a whim, I bought an eggplant. I didn't have a plan for it, but when I came across a recipe for eggplant involtini, the metaphorical light bulb came on.

You see, I've developed a bit of an obsession with ricotta cheese, enjoying it first in gnocchi form, then as a major ingredient in pound cake, and most recently, in a delicious manicotti made by my sister-in-law. I have a huge tub of it in the fridge and I'm not afraid to use it!

This version of eggplant involtini is probably extremely inauthentic, and I took several recipes into consideration while making it. Rather than frying the eggplant, I roasted it, which turned out to be far easier, more healthy, and just as effective as the alternative. While my filling included lots of lemon zest, cheese, and herbs, the lemon was what both my husband and I tasted first and most strongly. I didn't mind it, but he thought less would be better. I used my own marinara sauce, though I'm sure a jar from the store would be fine.

I wasn't sure how difficult this would be to accomplish and I was admittedly pretty hesitant to get started. I'm very glad I soldiered on--the dish was actually quite simple and didn't take a lot of hands-on work at all, especially since my sauce was already made. I highly recommend this tweaked version of involtini of eggplant--it's very tasty and requires only a small chunk of time and effort!

Involtini di Melanzane
(printable recipe)
Serves 2-3 (easily doubled!)
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise into 8 strips*
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided use
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs, panko or regular
  • 4 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, divided use
  • 4-5 springs fresh thyme, stems removed
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup), divided use
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and spray generously with vegetable oil spray.
Arrange eggplant slices in single layer on prepared sheet. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Flip eggplant slices and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Bake until tender and lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cool for 5 minutes.
Spread 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce over the bottom of an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Combine bread crumbs, ricotta, lemon zest, egg, 1/4 cup basil, thyme, 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl.
With widest ends of eggplant slices facing you, evenly distribute ricotta mixture on bottom third of each slice. Gently roll up each eggplant slice and place seam side down in tomato sauce.
Spoon remaining sauce over rolls. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano and mozzarella cheese.
Bake 25-35 minutes or until bubbly.
Let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining basil and serve.

*If your eggplant is old, you might want to salt and drain it on some paper towels for about half an hour to remove some bitterness. Rinse and dry it before baking!


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Mouthwatering! I wish I had this for supper...



Angie's Recipes said...

This looks so yum! And I will definitely use the homemade sauce for this...it makes all the difference!

Unknown said...

That looks like the bomb! I love the photo that is burbling, how did you do that?

grace said...

@Sandy: I used the action setting on my camera, then google photos made an animation with some of the shots--it's my new favorite way to take pictures! :)

Pam said...

I love ricotta too. I have a feeling I would also really LOVE this dish!

Natalie @ Obsessive Cooking Disorder said...

I've never heard of an involtini - what a cool dish! I love eggplants

Marjie said...

I misread your headline for a second, and thought your use of eggplant was involuntary! The filling looks wonderful. And baking the eggplant is so much healthier than frying it.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Bubbling gifs forever! And ricotta pound cake? I've got to try this! Off to look at your recipe now :D

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

We raised eggplant this year as our "new" veggie, and our effort to bring a new veggie into our diet. So far, my husband has been way more accepting. I like how you roast the eggplant first, so I will give eggplant one more try before I feed it to the chickens!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

I totally need another eggplant recipe! I actually composted one the other day, I was so bored with our usual. I think this should do it Grace! Much appreciated!

Unknown said...

This looks amazing!! I've made my fair share of eggplant parm, but never this pretty rolled and roasted dish! Definitely trying !

Gloria Baker said...

I saved this recipe. Adore eggplants!!