Eggplant Rollatini is my absolute favorite dish to order when we go to Little Italy in the Bronx. Our family tradition is to go to the same restaurant each time we visit, Dominick’s, for delicious family-style Italian food. This dish is only served on Sundays- and only while it lasts. I’ve been disappointed on a couple of occasions when it has run out before we have been able to get in our order.
Making this dish was a fabulous way to use my gorgeous CSA eggplant! This recipe was adapted from Mad Hungry Family: 120 Essential Recipes to Feed the Whole Crew by Lucinda Scala Quinn. I didn’t peel the eggplants, reduced the amount of prosciutto, and increased the casserole baking time. The prosciutto can easily be omitted to make a vegetarian version. Wonderful.
For the Simple Tomato Sauce:
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- one 28-ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, cut with a knife or kitchen shears
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
For the Eggplant and Filling:
- 2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
- 3 T grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 T olive oil
- 2 large eggplants, peeled (if desired) and cut lengthwise into twelve to sixteen 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 5 to 8 oz sliced prosciutto, optional
- 1 loaf Italian bread, for serving
To Make the Sauce:
- Heat a saucepan over medium heat, swirl in the oil, and add the garlic and red pepper flakes, stirring until the garlic lightly sizzles but does not brown, about 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes and salt. Simmer over medium heat for at least 20 minutes and up to 30 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning, to taste.
To Make the Eggplant Rollatini:
- In a large bowl, combine the ricotta and the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
- Shred enough mozzarella to measure 1/2 cup and add it to the bowl; reserve the remaining mozzarella.
- Add the egg, salt, and pepper and mix well.
- Heat an oven to 400 degrees, preferably set to convection roast.
- Brush the eggplant slices with oil on one side and place oil-side up on two parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheets.
- Roast for 20 minutes, flipping the eggplant slices halfway through cooking.
- Remove sheet pans from the oven and let the eggplant cool for about 10 minutes. (Keep oven on!)
- Spread a thin layer of the ricotta mixture on each piece of eggplant.
- Top with a slice of prosciutto, if using.
- Roll the eggplant into a rollatini. Repeat with the remaining slices and filling.
- Coat the bottom of a deep baking dish with some of the tomato sauce.
- Place the rollatini in the dish, nestling them close to each other.
- When the pan is filled, put some sauce on the top of the eggplants and sprinkle with Parmesan.
- Finally, cut slices from the remaining fresh mozzarella and place on top of each rollatini.
- Bake until the cheese is melted, bubbling, and lightly brown in spots, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving with slices of Italian bread.
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