I’ve always admired the grace of the eggplant…the colors are amazing and they are a fine example that nature routinely produces the most amazing palette combinations. The eggplant’s brilliant aubergine body and mossy green cap serves as deserved inspiration for a beautiful garment, painting, photo, or piece of pottery.
The eggplant gets its name from its egg shape and is actually in the same family as the tomato, which is really a fruit but is commonly thought to be a vegetable for cooking purposes. When choosing an eggplant, look for one that is firm and heavy, free of blemishes or dents, which often indicate rot. An eggplant is ripe when, if pressed, the skin springs back….if the dent remains, put it back! Eggplants are fat-free, high in dietary fiber, iron and potassium in addition to being beautiful and delicious.
As you can imagine, there are many ways to prepare eggplant, and, being half Italian, I like eggplant parmesan. On Tuesday night I made a variation of this dish…eggplant roll-ups!
I made a very light sauce with San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, onions, pepper flakes, and sautéed mushrooms and I let this simmer for about 45 minutes.
Realizing that I would be pressed for time on Tuesday evening, I prepared the eggplant ahead of time. First, I peeled the eggplant and sliced it lengthwise into fairly thin pieces, laid them out on a cookie sheet, brushed each with olive oil and garlic and baked them for 15 minutes at 350°. The filing is a mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese, an egg, parsley, basil and salt. I placed a tablespoon of filling onto each slice and rolled the eggplant up starting from the narrow to the thicker end. I placed the roll-ups, seam side down, in a baking dish, topped all with the San Marzano sauce, sprinkled with some mozzarella cheese and baked it, covered, for 40 minutes. I have to say, this dish was delicious! We also enjoyed a salad, some leftover checkerboard cake and, of course, wine.