Thursday, March 22, 2012

Eggplant Rollatini

The triumphant return of Poor Man's Cupboard.

This little creation is an eggplant rollatini, stuffed with ricotta cheese and a parsley-cashew pesto. I had actually wanted to make eggplant rollatini like a week and half ago as part of the first meal I cooked for my new boyfriend, but I was already making a roasted chicken, with roated potatoes and onions, garlic green beans, and a tomato & fennel salad. I thought the rollatini would be too much, so the eggplant remained forgotten in my fridge until tonight.

The thing is, I've never actually made rollatini before, much less cook eggplant. I did a bit of googling, and man-- there are a lot of conflicting opinions. Do you pre-salt the eggplant, or do you not pre-saly the eggplant. Do you fry the eggplant before stuffing and baking, or don't you? Well, I decided to lightly salt and pepper the eggplant, bread it and fry it, and drain it on a paper towel before stuffing. This method was successful for me, but to each their own. (p.s., the breading was homemade, using a dried out loaf of bread, dried oregano, and the food processor. I didn't add any salt/pepper, because the oregano was already giving it such a flavorful aroma, I didn't think it needed it)

So, the stuffing. This is where Poor Man comes in. I had the ricotta and the parsley, along with the eggplant, from last week still sitting in the fridge. But, I was trying to figure out how I could make this sort of special. I had brought some cashew trail-mix home from work last friday, to bring along for a weekend hike, and I had some leftover. Parlsey and cashews -- just the sort of mild flavor I was looking for, I didn't want anything to be overpowering. I didn't make a true pesto-- no oil, no mortar and pestle. I picked out about half a handful of cashews from the trail mix, and roughly chopped it with the parsley. I took the parsley-cashew mixture, and mixed it into the ricotta with one beaten egg. I also added in maybe two table spoons of tomato sauce, and a little salt and pepper.

Now, the tomato sauce. I'm not gonna front -- I used a jar of Francisco Rinaldi Chunky Garden tomato sauce that I got on sale for $1.29.

With the stuffing made, I took the fried eggplant, smeared the stuffing on one side, and rolled them up into pinwheels. I sauced the bottom of a Pyrex dish before placing each rollatini into the dish. I put just a little sauce over the top of each rollatini -- I really wanted them to stay as crisp as possible, and not get all soggy and mushy. They went into a 400° oven for about 15-20 minutes, just so that the egg in the stuffing mixture would cook up and set.

I gotta say, for my first time making eggplant rollatini, this was BANGING! The parsley was nice and peppery, but tamed down by the mildness of the cashews. And the rough chop of the mixture gave the rollatini a nice mix of texture compared to the creaminess of the ricotta. Definitely one for the recipe collection.

So, how do you make eggplant rollatini? What are your secret, special ingredients?