These purple beauties are delightful when served to at a restaurant, maybe as a caponata, or delightful eggplant parmigiano. But, when one of these ends up on your counter, what do you do with (or, even better, some of the little Japanese ones are growing in your garden) it?
This fresh variation of the Italian classic swaps out tomato sauce for sun-dried tomatoes, and uses cilantro, garlic, and jalapeño to add lots of additional flavor without damaging your waistline. You can also make miniature versions of this dish as finger foods for a cocktail party.
2 eggplants, one chopped into 1/2-inch cubes, the other sliced lengthwise into 1/3-inch slices
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 jalapeño, trimmed, de-seeded, and finely diced
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro, plus more for serving
1 cup fresh ricotta
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large bowl, toss eggplant cubes with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and season well. Pour on to a silpat-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the eggplant cubes, then add the peeled garlic cloves and chopped jalapeños, and roast 30 minutes longer, stirring the cubes again after 15 minutes.
While the cubes roast, brush each side of the eggplant slices with olive oil. Lay on a cooling rack placed inside a baking pan, and season both sides. Set aside.
Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro, ricotta, and Parmigiano together in a bowl and set aside.
When the cubes are finished cooking (this can be done a day in advance), remove from oven, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake the eggplant slices for 20 minutes, then remove. Heat the broiler to high. Flip the eggplant slices and then broil them about 6 inches away from the element for approximately 6-8 minutes, or until they are tender and edges browned.
While the slices are still warm, spoon 2 tablespoons filling lengthwise along one side. Roll the eggplant into cigarette shapes and place, seam-side down, on a plate. Repeat with the remaining slices.
To serve, place 4 involtini on each plate. Garnish with eggplant cubes, cilantro, and a drizzle of olive oil, and offer freshly grated Parmigiano on the side.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: about 1 hour, 15 minutes