I love eggplant; parmigiana or rollatini, it is a dish I could happily eat once a week. Notice I didn't say I could COOK it once a week, but I will say it's become much easier since I began baking the eggplant instead of frying it. In addition to making a mess of my stove and kitchen, frying makes this dish unnecessarily high calorie. So now, instead of waiting for my brother-in-law to make it for me on holidays, I make the eggplant in the oven with no loss of flavor.
1 large eggplant
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 lb ricotta (whole or part skim works)
3 tbs grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3 tbs chopped parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
3-4 cups of your favorite tomato sauce (homemade or jarred)
OPTIONAL: 3 links of sweet Italian sausage; remove meet from casing and brown, breaking up into small pieces
Cut off both ends of the eggplant and peel it. Holding the eggplant upright, very carefully slice it long wise into 1/4 inch slices. Try to keep each slice even from top to bottom to make rolling easier. A large eggplant should yield 8-10 slices.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray or nonstick cooking spray.
Set up a breading station: place the flour on one plate (I use paper plates); beat the two eggs in a shallow bowl; place the panko bread crumbs on a second plate. Use one hand to dredge each slice in flour, then dip in the egg; use the other hand to coat the slice in bread crumbs. Place each slice on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the eggplant slices for 12-15 minutes, flip over and bake another 8-10 minutes. Bread crumbs should be nicely browned. Cool the eggplant while you make the ricotta mixture.
Place the ricotta, 1 egg, the grated cheese, the garlic powder, the parsley, and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella in a medium bowl and combine thoroughly. Add the browned sausage crumbles to this step, if desired.
In a rectangular baking dish (like a lasagna dish or a casserole dish), ladle a few tablespoons of sauce to cover the bottom of the dish.
Lay out your eggplant slices on waxed paper and divide the ricotta mixture among them, placing a heap in the middle of each slice. Carefully roll up each slice, placing the seam on the bottom and using a tablespoon to tap the mixture into place. Place the rolls in the prepared baking dish.
Spoon over the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes. You can broil briefly (watch carefully) to brown the cheese if your dish permits high heat. Let sit for 5 minutes to set, then serve.
This dish gets even better--if you can believe it--when reheated, so I hope you have some leftovers. While it's very good as a vegetarian dish, I think it's even better with the sausage. No more waiting for holidays for me. This is a great week night dish.