Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Eggplant Rollatini

I got this recipe from Veganomicon, although I did add spaghetti noodles to it. But if you would like to serve the rollatini alone, that would work just as well. I love how fancy this dish looks and it would be great to serve when you have people to impress. It did take a little while to make though, so it's best to save for a day that you have 2 hours to spend in the kitchen. I would also suggest making the Tofu Ricotta a day ahead to help cut down on the time needed.

Makes 12 rollatini, Serves 4 to 6

* 3 large eggplants ( a little over 3 lbs )
* 4 cups Marinara Sauce
* 1 recipe Tofu Ricotta ( see bottom of the page )
* 12 large spinach leaves, washed very well and stemmed

Dipping mixture
* 1 cup cold water
* 1/4 cup cornstarch

Breading Mixture
* 2 cups bread crumbs
* 1 tsp dried thyme
* 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1/2 tsp dried basil
* Optional 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
* 1/3 cup Soy Parmesan

1. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into twelve slices about 1/2" thick.
2. Generously sprinkle salt on both sides of eggplant and rub it in. Set in a colander to drain for 30 minutes.

Making the dipping and breading mixtures
1. Mix the cornstarch with the water in a bowl that is large enough to fit your eggplant slices. Mix together all the breading ingredients on a large dinner plate.
2. Rinse the eggplant with cold water and set aside. Whether you are baking or frying the eggplant, have a 9x13 inch baking pan at the ready. Preheat the oven to 350 F if you are baking.

1. Preheat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Let it heat for at least 3 minutes. Pour in and heat about 1/8 inch of oil. Let it get hot but not smoky; if it smokes, lower the heat just a bit. To test the oil for the correct temperature, sprinkle in a small amount of bread crumbs. If bubbles form rapidly around the crumbs, the oil is ready.
2. Dredge an eggplant slice in the dipping mixture. Sometimes the starch settles at the bottom of the bowl, so mix it with a fork if need be. Gently press the eggplant into the breading mixture on both sides so that the crumbs are firmly in place.
3. Prep the second slice the same way, then place both slices in the pan and cook on each side for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Use tongs to flip the slices. The eggplant should be tender and golden brown on both sides. When done, transfer to paper towels to drain the oil and proceed with remaining eggplant slices.

1. Follow the same directions for breading as above. Grease two baking sheets with olive oil, place all the eggplant slices on the sheets, and spray the breaded slices with olive oil. Bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes; no need to flip them. When ready, they should be tender and flexible. If you can't fit both sheets on one rack in your oven, then rotate them halfway through the baking process.

To Assemble
1. Let the slices cool enough that you can handle them, usually 10 minutes. Pour 1 1/2 cups of sauce into a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
2. With the narrower end pointed towards you, place a leaf of spinach on the lower third of the eggplant slice. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of ricotta on the spinach, sprinkle a few pine nuts on top of that ( if using ), and then roll up.
3. Place the rolled eggplant slices, seam side down, in the baking pan. When everything is rolled, pour another cup or so of sauce over the rollatini. Bake for about 20 minutes.

To serve, sprinkle a little Parmesan on top of each rollatini and enjoy.

Tofu Ricotta Recipe

* 1 lb extra firm tofu
* 2 tsp lemon juice
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1/2 tsp salt
* Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
* Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped finely ( 10 leaves or so, optional )
* 2 tsp olive oil
* 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1. In a large bowl, mush the tofu up with your hands, until its crumbly.
2. Add the lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and basil. Mush with hands again; this time you want it to get very mushy, so squeeze through your fingers and mush until it reaches a consistency of ricotta cheese, 2 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the olive oil, stir with a fork. Add the nutritional yeast and mix all ingredients well. Use a fork now, because the olive oil will make it sticky. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.