I can't recall exactly what brought about my craving for eggplant rollatini this week, but I decided to indulge myself and give making it a shot. I also decided I'd try and do a vegan version.
Eggplant rollatini involves taking thinly sliced eggplant, frying it, stuffing it and baking it in sauce. Since I've never made it myself before I consulted two recipes to get a sense of the techniques involved.
I used my mandoline to slice the eggplant. The advantage of using the mandoline is that you get uniform pieces and the slicing goes very quickly. I then salted the slices and let them drain on paper towels.
I then set out to make my sauce. I chopped a medium size yellow onion and a large handful of sliced cremini mushrooms, seasoned them with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and sauteed them in olive oil. I then added five cloves of minced garlic. Since there were some brown bits on the bottom of my saucepan, I deglazed it with a bit of wine. I then chopped up 10 roma tomatoes and added them to the pot, along with some very generous sprinkles of Italian seasoning. When it came to a vigorous bubble, I turned the heat down and let it simmer.
I then dried off my eggplant and prepared to fry it. Sometimes, eggplant rotini is breaded, but I didn't like how my test breaded piece came out. So, instead, I just pan fried the eggplant plain. I used some olive oil in the pan, but also spritzed the eggplant pieces with olive oil cooking spray.
Once the eggplant pieces were done frying, I set them aside and began work on my filling. I had some leftover kale from earlier this week, so I sauteed that with some garlic. Once that was done cooking, I used tongs to put a small heap on the edge of the eggplant, and topped the heap with daiya mozzarella and fresh thyme and parsley.
I then rolled the eggplant into tight little packages and put them in a square glass baking dish. I had a little kale & garlic left over, so I sprinkled that, along with the leftover herbs, on top. Then, I covered the eggplant rolls with sauce and a generous sprinkle of daiya.
I let the whole thing bake for just under 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven, the point at which the cheese had melted and the sauce was bubbling. It was a little hard to get out of the pan - in hindsight, I probably should have used toothpicks and let it sit longer, or perhaps made a chunkier sauce or let it cook longer so it was less wet. But, the flavors were nice and it was a filling dinner, so I am counting this experiment as a success.