Eggplant Involtini with Pistachios and Currants
I’m not sure what came first last week, a craving for melty cheese or a desire to highlight some of this season’s most delicious ingredients. Suffice it to say I ended up here, with eggplant involtini, and that’s not a bad place to be. Involtini means “little bundles” in Italian, and I only recently discovered their magic. This is an excellent substitute for making a big, heavy, eggplant parmesan in the middle of summer. It’s a perfect serving (or two) without the weight of a traditional parm. Unless you’re like me and you throw tons of mozzarella over the top. Then it’s really not so different, except that it’s prettier.
- 2 cups tomato sauce (either store-bought or homemade)
- 1-2 medium eggplants
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoons pistachios, toasted
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 8 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons dried currants (optional, you can leave them off and the dish will still be delicious)
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- ¾ cup basil leaves, thinly sliced Mozzarella to top (optional, unless you're like me and there's no such thing as "optional" cheese)
- If you're making your sauce set it aside and let it cool while you prepare the involtini.
- Set broiler to high. Slice your eggplant lengthwise to about ¼-inch thickness. Try to get 8 to 10 slices. Sprinkle with kosher salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Place on an aluminum foil-lined pan and brush olive oil on both sides. Place in broiler and cook 5 minutes on each side, making sure the eggplant doesn't burn or get too browned. After the eggplant is cooked, set aside and let cool.
- Place garlic in food processor and process until it's in small pieces. Add panko and toasted pistachios to the garlic and run the machine until you have coarse and well-blended crumbs. Then add the zest, ricotta and egg and process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the currants (if you're using), basil and ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Take a pie or baking dish and pour 1½ cups of sauce into the bottom of the dish. Take a slice of eggplant and spread 2 heaping tablespoons of the cheese mixture over one side of the eggplant. Roll up the eggplant and place, seam-side down, into the sauce. Repeat for remaining eggplant.
- When finished rolling up your involtini, pour the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese and (if you're using) some mozzarella slices. Bake 20 to 30 minutes until cheese is lightly browned and sauce is bubbling. Serve hot.
- Reprinted with permission from Herring and Potatoes.