Sautéed Broccoli rabe with slivered garlic and chili flakes
Despite the time consuming steps of this dish, eggplant rollatini provides a just reward for the patient cook. This dish might seem a little on the heavy side for summer, but the local Jersey eggplant was calling my name and I could not resist. Being a purist, I had to make my tomato sauce from scratch, but it you wanted to cut a corner or two, you could use a good quality jarred sauce.
Since the eggplant has a very high moisture content, it needs to be salted and “sit” for an hour. 2 medium sized eggplants were used. The eggplant should be sliced about 1/3 of an inch thick. As the eggplant “rests", you will notice moisture collecting on the surface of the eggplant slices. After an hour, wipe the moisture and excess salt off. This process also tenderizes the flesh of the eggplant. While the eggplant “sits”, the sauce can be prepared.
Serves 4 plus leftovers (The sauce only gets better with age)
- Olive oil
- 1 chopped Spanish onion
- 5 diced cloves of garlic
- 1 chopped green bell pepper
- 1 diced jalapeño
- 1 can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
- 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tbsp oregano
- 2 tbsp torn fresh basil, plus additional for garnish and rolling
- salt and pepper
- 2 medium eggplants sliced (1/3 of an inch thick)
- 1 thinly sliced fresh mozzarella ball
- grated Parmesan cheese
Sauté the garlic and onion in a hot pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. Once slightly colored, add the green bell pepper and jalapeño and allow to cook for around 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and deglaze the pan, scrapping up any ingredients that have started to stick. Add the San Marzano tomatoes, oregano, basil, and a pinch of salt and a grinding of pepper. Cook at a simmer for at least an hour, allowing the flavors to meld together. For a smoother and more homogeneous texture, use an immersion blender and puree the sauce. You can continue to allow the sauce to cook while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Heat up a grill or grill pan and lightly oil the eggplant. Grill the eggplant slices until they soften, but are still a little firm, about 4 minutes a side. Allow to cool slightly, just enough to be able to handle.
Preheat oven to 400
Lightly oil a roasting pan and ladle enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.
To make the rolling a little easier, create little stations with each ingredient. Lay the eggplant flat and pour about a tablespoon of sauce on one third of the eggplant. Top it with a slice of mozzarella, some basil leaves and roll the eggplant into a parcel. Place all the eggplant rolls into the pan, spoon a little additional sauce over each one and finish with some grated parmesan cheese. Bake the rollies for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted.
Serve with additional sauce, some freshly torn basil and a little dusting of parmesan cheese.
The eggplant rollatini can be viewed as a healthful version of eggplant parmesan. The elimination of breading and pan frying creates a more low fat dish and by creating parcels with the eggplant, you are bolstering a single eggplant slice instead of having to layer upon layer fried eggplant, cheese, and sauce.
Not only does this dish provide the diner with the benefits of lycopene that comes from the tomato sauce, but also eggplants have anthocyanins, which generate its purple hue. Anthocyanins reduce the risk for cancer, aid with memory and urinary track health as well as providing anti-aging benefits. Eggplants are an antioxidant and contain fiber and potassium (Bananas are not the only food to posses this nutrient). Potassium is an essential mineral and helps with fluid balance and the maintenance of blood pressure as well as muscle functionality.
A simple sauté of peppery, bittery broccoli rabe with slivered garlic and chili flakes offered an excellent crunch along side the rollatini.
Eggplant is at its peak from August to October, so enjoy this purple parcel while it is at its best!
Check back soon for the ultimate hiking sandwich!