Whenever I grocery shop, I always stop in the produce section to look at the lovely plump eggplants, just sitting there in their cozy little group. They just seem so…inviting. I want to eat them! I want to cook with them and have them turn out delicious! And most of all, I want to do it in a way that doesn’t batter and fry them into an unrecognizable state.
Eggplants are one of those foods that act just like sponges; they soak up whatever you surround them with. So I decided to surround my eggplant dish with things that taste excellent and at the same time don’t give me post-dinner calorie remorse. It fits into my low-fat diet very well with the additions of the fat-free ricotta and the nonfat greek yogurt; it also makes my tummy happy to know that it is full of delicious veggies and no gluten.
This is a fantastic dish to serve at your next dinner party; each rollatini acts as its own serving, and it can be prepared before anyone arrives and then popped into the oven at dinnertime. Serve it with a green salad or even a small pasta dish and it will be a dinner worth lingering over.
1/2 of a zucchini, small dice
1 carton of mushrooms, sliced
1 red onion, small dice
1 small green pepper, small dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 1/2 Tb olive oil
3/4 c cooked brown rice
1/2 c plain lowfat greek yogurt or light sour cream
1 c light or non-fat ricotta cheese
4 c tomato sauce, home made or jarred
1 1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper
This recipe has three main sections: prepare and bake the eggplant, prepare and saute the filling, and make and bake the rollatini. Luckily, the first two can be done at the same time! The whole process is very much like making lasagna, and preparing this delicious dish (including cooking time) should take about an hour and a half. Depending on the size of eggplant you buy, you should end up with approximately 15 rollatini, and I would serve 2 to each person if it is going to be your main course.
- For the eggplant – Remove the green stems from the top, and make long slices from top to bottom with a serrated knife that are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Generously salt the planks with kosher salt and leave to drain in a colander in your sink for 25 minutes. This draining will remove any bitterness from the eggplant, and the salt will be washed off later (so don’t worry about over-salting). Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and prepare 2 sheet pans by spraying them with cooking spray. After they are done draining, rinse them off and pat dry. Then sprinkle with salt on both sides of the eggplant, place on the sheet trays, and bake for 30 minutes (15 minutes per side). Every oven is different, so be sure to keep and eye on them! When they are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool down for a few minutes.
- For the filling – In a large bowl combine your diced peppers, onions, zucchini and mushrooms; keep your minced garlic and spinach in another bowl so they can be added later. Saute the veggies in olive oil until they are just beginning to soften, then add the garlic and spinach. You will be surprised how much the spinach cooks down! Season with salt, pepper, and Season All, and when the liquid has cooked out of it, return the veggies to the large bowl to cool down. Now that everything is cooked, you can add the rest of your ingredients to the filling: brown rice, ricotta, yogurt, garlic powder, oregano, and 1/2 c of the mozzarella cheese. Stir to combine, and give it a little taste to make sure you’ve gotten the seasonings right!
- To make the Rollatini – Turn your oven down to 350 degrees. Take a large casserole dish and ladle 1 c of sauce onto the bottom of it (you may need 2 casserole dishes to hold all the rollatini). Place a large spoonful of the filling in the center of an eggplant plank, and wrap the ends around the filling. Place the roll seam side down in the casserole dish, and continue until all of the eggplant planks have been filled. Ladle the remaining sauce over the tops of the rollatinis, and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese over them. Grind some fresh pepper over it all, and pop the dishes in the oven for 25 minutes! At the end, turn your broiler on to low, and get that cheese to a lovely golden brown. Let them cool for a few minutes before plating, and serve it all with a green salad or a small side of pasta.
I really loved making this! It was all the things I look for in a dish – warm, comforting, full of veggies, and something I know makes my body feel good. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And don’t be put off by the number of ingredients – just give yourself time to make it and have all the things you need around you, and you’ll do great.
Let me know how it goes!