Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Eggplant Rolls

The Rosita eggplants looked like they were starting to fade a bit, usually a sign of maturity and, yuck, seediness. So, I harvested the entire crop. All two of them! For the entire year. What a bounty! Humph. Eggplant is always slow to perform around here, but this is ridiculous.

So, how to use it? Nothing came immediately to mind so I starting consulting my cookbooks. (Have I mentioned that the collection is in the range of 400 these days?) Inspiration finally came from the pages of Giuliano Bugialli's Foods of Sicily & Sardinia and The Smaller Islands. I liked the ingredients used in a stuffed eggplant recipe, but I didn't want to do it his way. So, here's what I ended up making:

Eggplant Rolls

2 medium size eggplant
olive oil as needed
5 cloves garlic
1 oz. oven roasted cherry tomatoes or dried tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated 3 month old manchego (parmigiano would be good too)
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Slice the eggplant lengthwise 1/4-inch thick. (I use a mandoline). Brush both sides of the slices lightly with olive oil. Put the slices on a baking sheet and broil on both sides until speckled with brown spots. Set aside to cool. (I had enough slices to fill a 13 x 15-inch baking sheet).

Grind the garlic, tomatoes, and parsley together in a mini-processor, along 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil to make a rough paste. Mix the paste together with the bread crumbs and cheese.

Lightly season the eggplant slices with salt and pepper. Divide the filling among the slices, spreading it on to cover about two-thirds of the slice, leaving only one end of the slice uncovered. Sprinkle of some red pepper flakes if desired. Roll the slices, starting at the filling covered end, and place seam side down in a small lightly oiled baking dish. At this point the rolls can be refrigerated and baked later.

Bake at 350 F. for about 15 to 20 minutes to heat through. Makes a nice appetizer or an accompaniment to a salad.

These rolls have such a savory flavor that my husband asked if they had sausage in them!

Eggplant Ready to Roll

When I harvested the Rositas I was ready to write them off for next year since I got so few of them. But, they turn out to be really good eggplant. I thought they were going to be mature and seedy and they were far from that. The seeds had not developed yet and the flesh was beautifully white and tender. I'm going to give them another chance next year. Maybe I'll pull out those old Wall-O-Waters and see if they can give the eggplant a head start.

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