Eggplant Involtini

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Eggplant Involtini - It's Not Complicated Recipes #eggplant #aubergine #vegetarian #easyrecipes #glutenfree

Eggplant Involtini is the ideal Italian comfort food.

Involtini loosely translates as small bundles of food. That is, food which has an outer layer wrapped around a filling. Veal is frequently used but chicken, fish or vegetables are also used. Here I have slices of shallow fried eggplant wrapped around a flavour filled, creamy ricotta filling. The small bundles are placed into a basic tomato sauce and baked to rich, flavoursome, deliciousness.

Whilst I love eggplant in many preparations, this dish is one that I find myself making over and over again. It is a wonderfully versatile dish, being suitable to serve to carnivores or vegetarians alike. I serve it as a starter, as a side dish with meat or poultry or as a stand-alone, meat-free meal. To serve as a main meal I accompany the Involtini with a green salad and crusty bread. The Eggplant Involtini are so delicious and satisfying that I doubt even the most enthusiastic meat eater will complain.

For this dish, I use eggplant which I slice lengthways. I soak the eggplant for 30 minutes in a brine solution. Whilst the eggplant is soaking I prepare the filling. I make a mixture with ricotta, egg, parmesan, salt, pepper, parsley and currants. Then, I remove the eggplant slices from the brine, pat them dry, coat them in rice flour and shallow fry them. Once the eggplant has cooled slightly, I add the ricotta filling to each slice, roll them up and place them in a baking dish with a simple tomato sauce.

After a sprinkle of parmesan, I bake the Involtini until they are meltingly tender.

It was previously necessary to salt eggplant slices to remove bitter juices. That tendency to bitterness has mostly been bred out of the eggplant so in general I no longer follow this practice. However, that procedure did help prevent the eggplant from soaking up a bucket load of oil. So, whilst it’s not essential to salt the eggplant, I soak the slices in a bowl of water with a couple of tablespoons of salt for about 30 minutes. I find that after bathing in brine, the fried eggplant absorbs less oil. It is also essential that the oil be hot but not smoking. This way, the eggplant will cook without soaking up all the oil. After frying, I place the eggplant slices on paper towel to drain off any excess oil. I find that by shallow frying the eggplant slices the flesh becomes tender and creamy.

The tomato sauce that I use for this dish is a simple one, made with olive oil, finely chopped garlic, tomato passata, salt, pepper and fresh basil. It is briefly cooked so that it retains its fresh flavour.

My Eggplant Involtini is a great dish for entertaining as it can be assembled ahead of time and baked just before serving.

I love a dish that you can have prepared in advance, so you can spend time with your guests. My Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Shells or Pumpkin Shells are other great make-ahead dishes.

Please let me know if you make this classic, Italian comfort food. It is delicious served with my Olive and Rosemary Focaccia.
Alex xx

Eggplant Involtini
5 from 53 votes
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Eggplant Involtini

This classic Italian dish will be enjoyed by carnivores and vegetarians alike. The small bundles of eggplant, filled with a seasoned ricotta mixture, are rich, flavoursome and extremely satisfying. For stress-free entertaining, serve this dish which can be made ahead.

Course Main Course, Side Dish, Starter
Cuisine Italian
Keyword delicious, easy, eggplant, eggplant involtini, gluten free, main course, side dish, simple, starter, vegetarian
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 4 people (as a main course)
Calories 714 kcal
Author Alexandra

Ingredients

For the Eggplant:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 1/4 cup rice flour *
  • 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin

For the Ricotta Filling:

  • 250 g fresh ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
  • 40 g parmesan grated, divided
  • 100 fresh mozzarella cut into 1 cm thick sticks
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 small garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 500 ml tomato passata *
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves divided
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the Topping:

  • 2 tbsp pine nuts * toasted lightly in a dry frying pan (optional)

Instructions

For the Eggplant:

  1. Cut off the stem end of the eggplant.

    Stand the eggplant upright on the cut end.

  2. Cut the eggplant lengthways into 1cm thick slices discarding the first and last slice that has the skin*.

  3. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to a large bowl of water. Add the eggplant slices to the brine.

  4. Top with an upturned plate and a weight on top to keep the eggplant submerged.

    Soak for a half hour. Prepare the filling whilst the eggplant is soaking as per the instructions below.

  5. Soak the currants in the red wine vinegar for 5 minutes. Drain the currants*.

  6. Drain the eggplant slices and pat dry with a tea towel or kitchen paper.

  7. Lightly coat the eggplant slices in the flour.

  8. Heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a large frying pan. The oil should be sufficiently hot but not smoking.

    Cook the eggplant in the frying pan 1-2 minutes each side until tender and golden, adding more oil as necessary.

  9. Drain the eggplant slices on a plate covered with kitchen paper. Layer with more kitchen paper as each layer is covered with eggplant.

For the Ricotta Filling:

  1. To make the filling, mix ricotta with the egg and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  2. Add the drained currants & half the grated parmesan to the ricotta mixture. Mix well.

For the Tomato Sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil and add the finely chopped garlic. Heat gently until the garlic is fragrant and pale golden, ensuring that it does not burn.

  2. Add the tomato passata, sugar, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and 8 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces.

    Stir well, bring to a simmer and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

    Remove from the heat. 

To Assemble:

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 Degrees C (350 F).

    Brush the base of a large ovenproof dish* with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.

  2. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the ricotta filling onto the narrow end of an eggplant slice.

  3. Top with a stick of mozzarella before rolling tightly.

  4. Add ½ cup of the tomato sauce to the baking dish.

  5. Place the eggplant rolls on the sauce with the join side down so they don’t unroll. Keep them tightly packed.

  6. Top with the remaining tomato sauce.

  7. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.

  8. Cover the dish with foil, bake 30 minutes then uncover & bake another 10 minutes.

    To serve, add a few of the remaining basil leaves and toasted pine nuts (optional).

Recipe Notes

*I have used rice flour to keep the dish gluten-free. You can use regular plain/all-purpose flour if this is not a requirement for you.
*The Australian tablespoon is 20 ml or 4 teaspoons. In many other countries, the tablespoon is 15 ml or 3 teaspoons. You may need to adjust your measurements accordingly.
*When I drain the currants I keep the vinegar to use in a salad dressing. It has a slight sweetness which has infused from the currants.
* Tomato Passata is an uncooked tomato purée that has been strained of seeds and skins. It generally comes in tall glass jars. As an alternative, use tinned, pureed tomatoes or put tinned tomatoes through a food mill.
*The sugar is added to counter any acidity in the tomato passata.
*Instead of discarding the first and last slices of the eggplants, do as I do. Fry them and enjoy with a sprinkle of sea salt. These are cook’s perks. They are delicious.
*I used a medium and a small size baking dish.
*I have added some toasted pine nuts for textural contrast; they add a nice crunch. If you would like to add some, place the pine nuts in a dry (oil-free) frying pan. Over moderate heat, stir or toss the pine nuts until they are golden. Immediately remove them to a small dish so that they don’t continue cooking.

Nutrition Facts
Eggplant Involtini
Amount Per Serving
Calories 714 Calories from Fat 477
% Daily Value*
Fat 53g82%
Saturated Fat 15g94%
Cholesterol 99mg33%
Sodium 1047mg46%
Potassium 1157mg33%
Carbohydrates 39g13%
Fiber 9g38%
Sugar 21g23%
Protein 23g46%
Vitamin A 1260IU25%
Vitamin C 14.9mg18%
Calcium 430mg43%
Iron 3.2mg18%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Eggplant Involtini
Gluten Free Eggplant Involtini - It's Not Complicated Recipes #eggplant #aubergine #vegetarian #easyrecipes #glutenfree
Gluten Free Eggplant Involtini - It's Not Complicated Recipes #eggplant #aubergine #vegetarian #easyrecipes #glutenfree

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243 Comments on “Eggplant Involtini”

  1. 5 stars
    Superb dish.
    Can make it advance – tick!
    Easy to prepare – tick!
    Delicious to eat – tick!

    Fantastic.

  2. Wow,
    It looks really easy to make the Eggplant! I was looking for some new recipes. Thank God, that I found your blog!

  3. Hola Cheska by Francheska here:

    Well, what can I say, this looks very pretty and tasty. Also, looks very easy and healthy to make. I don’t like the taste of eggplant that much but I have heard that is very nutritious.

  4. Yum! I love eggplant so I’m always looking for new recipes with it! Can’t wait to give this a try!

  5. 5 stars
    Guess what, I just bought some eggplant this morning during my groceries shopping for the week. I am going to try out this recipe and hope to make my first Italian eggplant. Pray that it is going to be a successful one and everyone loves it.

  6. 5 stars
    This Eggplant Involtini looks so tempting and yummy! I will definitely save this recipe, I think my husband will surely like the taste of it.

  7. 5 stars
    I’ve been wanting to cook with eggplant for a while, so I’m so glad I came across this recipe. You’re instructions are so clear, thank you! I can’t wait to make this.

  8. 5 stars
    My husband loves aubergine, so I am always looking for new ways to cook with it. Can’t wait to try this.

  9. 5 stars
    This is comfort food at its best! Just had something really similar for dinner and thought ” I need more of this! “… so I know what I am making next!

  10. 5 stars
    This looks good! I’ve been eating eggplant more than I once did, will have to try this. Interesting about the need to salt it having changed over time.

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  12. Oh my gosh, this looks absolutely divine! I’ve never thought of sprinkling pine nuts on top of my eggplant bakes, but that’s such a great idea.

  13. Omg, you are amazing, outstanding . Daily I look forward to your recipes. You are giving me some serious food goals. This looks so delicious.

  14. I wonder if this dish will match my grilled salmon. I really love eggplants, and I’m looking for a nice side dish for my grilled salmon. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  15. 5 stars
    Reading through this post, I realized that I don’t use eggplant near enough. I love eggplant dishes, but for reason I never think about it as one of my ‘go-to’ ingredients. I love a good involtini, though, and using eggplant here is perfect! Excellent recipe, my friend!

    1. Such a lovely comment David, thank you. For me, eggplant is something special; there are so many ways in which to use it. I look forward to hearing if you make this. 🙂

  16. 5 stars
    My family loves eggplant and this dish is right up everyone’s alley! Growing up in an Italian home this is my idea of comfort food. Looks delicious!

  17. 5 stars
    I love that you can make this eggplant involtini in advance! Makes hosting so much easier and more enjoyable. Plus, this recipe is always a show-stopper. Thanks for sharing another great recipe!

  18. 5 stars
    This looks really delicious, I haven’t tried it yet so I’ll have to try this recipe tonight.

    1. I am so happy that you’re willing to give this recipe a try even though you don’t love eggplant. I hope that it will be a very pleasant surprise for you. 🙂

  19. Ahh , so different this is! I never ate Eggplant as a starter item. I could not find much variety in Eggplant recipes. This recipe is interesting, especially I like how at the end it looks different and delicious.

  20. I love eggplant dishes and I’m glad you explained the use of the brine, I thought it was a good idea to use. I also like your addition of currants to the filling, an interesting addition and I’m very curious as to what it tastes like. Looks delicious!

  21. 5 stars
    Eggplant is one of my favourite vegetables and I love trying different dishes containing it as an ingredient. I’ll give it a try for sure! 🙂

    1. Involtini are often made using meat. However, the eggplant makes this a lovely meat-free dish, ideal for vegetarians. Let me know if you try them, they are delicious. 🙂

  22. What a lovely type of dish to try. I think it isn’t too complicated to prepare at all. My mouth is watering already.

    1. Thank you Hannah, it is a lovely make-ahead dish. There’s a couple of steps but none that are complicated. Let me know if you make it. 🙂

  23. OMG. You could put marinara and basil on a worn leather shoe and Id eat it? Latin foods are my fave, but Italian and Mexican definitely reign top. This looks amazing

  24. 5 stars
    My husband loves eggplant so much. I love how your recipe is so easy to follow. Can’t wait to make these for him.

    1. Thank you Irina, I’m so pleased that you find the information in the recipe useful. Your husband is in for a treat. I hope you both enjoy them. 🙂

    1. Hi Candace, I’m also a touch obsessed with eggplant. 🙂 The ricotta adds a delicious light, that creamy filling that works so well. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

  25. 5 stars
    This one looks really delish!! It can be served as a part of a good full course of meals for house parties that are more formal than usual. Always great recipes whenever I’m here, Alexandra!

  26. Definitely sounds like a labor of love but you’ve got me thinking! I’m trying to reduce things like noodles and I think I’d love to try eggplant as a noodle replacement in my veggie lasagna! Yummy… good to know that I need to soak it first.

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you will give this recipe a try. I love that it is a meal than I can make in advance. Please let me know how you enjoy it. 🙂

    1. Hi Akriti, I am a huge fan of eggplant; I also enjoy eggplant parmesan. The Involtini is another Italian recipe that I enjoy.I love that I can prepare it in advance. Please let me know if you make it. 🙂

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  28. 5 stars
    This sounds like a nice recipe. Is there any other vegetable you can replace the aubergine with? I am not a fan of the soft texture of the baked aubergine. I only like it fried as a crisp or mashed with yogurt as a salad.

  29. 5 stars
    Eggplant is one of my favourite vegetables. I hope to get a polly tunnel next year so I can grow it on my allotment. Then I can make your recipe!

    1. There are so many ways to enjoy eggplant Britney. I am so pleased that you also enjoy it; I look forward to hearing if you convert this recipe to vegan. 🙂

    1. Myrah, we love eggplant here too. Soaking them is just a tip to avoid them soaking up a lot of oil and completely optional. The main thing is to enjoy them. 🙂 🙂

  30. Nice one, I love eggplants for viand cuz it’s affordable most of the time. This dish would surely be a favorite.

  31. 5 stars
    This really looks so tempting. I love eggplant. So I am going to make this dish for sure, Thanks for sharing the recipe. Recipe looks easy and doable

  32. 5 stars
    It is good to know that this recipe can prepare in advance and bake when it actually needs.I am a big fan of eggplant recipes.In Sri Lankan cooking,we mostly use eggplants in stir fry ,pickle or as curry.But,this sounds another delicious recipe for my meal planing.

  33. Oh, another way to prepare eggplant! My library of eggplant recipes is increasing. My husband loves this particular vegetable but he doesn’t want it in vegetable soups and stews. He wants it the star. 🙂 This is a good one.

    1. Sigrid, eggplant is also one of my favourite ingredients. I am delighted to hear that you think your husband will like this recipe. Please let me know how it goes. 🙂

  34. 5 stars
    I love many Italian foods and eating eggplants. This is an interesting recipe, in addition to what I used to cook.

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