Sweet Summer Rollatini

by Robert Booz

Eggplant rollatini is one of those Italian-American dishes that can be found in pasta and red sauce joints from coast to coast (and rollatini isn’t even a word in Italian). With good reason, it’s delicious.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sized eggplants, ends removed and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch thick planks (yield should be about 12 planks), salted and drained
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. grated pecorino cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¾ pound of sweet Italian sausage, removed from the casing, broken up, and cooked
  • 1 bunch of basil chiffonade (about 20 leaves)
  • 1½ pounds fresh mozzarella, sliced into ¼-inch slices
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Sweet Summer Rollatini

Sybil Teles

This twist on rollatini, with the red sauce omitted, makes the dish a bit lighter for extra hot summer days.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Add half the olive oil to a large pan and cook the eggplant planks until they are lightly browned and pliable, about two minutes per side. Alternatively, you could coat the planks in a bit of oil and grill them to add a smoky depth of flavor. Meanwhile mix together well the eggs, sausage, lemon zest, garlic, basil, pecorino, and ricotta, adding salt and pepper to taste. Spoon a healthy amount of this mixture into the softened eggplant and roll up. Place your rolls in a greased baking dish, seam side down. Cover the rolls with the fresh mozzarella and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil. Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes. Switch the heat to broiler and cook until the mozzarella is browned and bubbly, about 3-4 minutes, carefully checking on it every minute.

Recipe yields 4 to 6 servings.