Easy Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach and Mushrooms

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Eggplant is an odd thing.  Some of my favorite dishes are made of eggplant – most markedly my nearly guiltless Indian Baingan Bharta & one of the most popular recipes of this blog’s history, my Spicy Vegan Chinese Eggplant – both seen just below.

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But if it is cut into slices or cubes that are too large & then under-cooked – it can have an icky texture & an icky flavor.  Lots of people categorically reject it because the first time they tried it – it was yucky.  But it is so versatile & can take on so many flavors so well.  I love it & I feel certain I could convert more than a few haters – if I served them the right dish.

THIS dish might just be that dish – assuming they do not also hate mushrooms and/or spinach.   The eggplant is very subtle & melts in your mouth.  This could be customized a zillion ways.  Use feta or goat cheese or smoked mozzarella, lose the mushrooms, use a vodka sauce.  There are no rules.  Just make a little mash of some flavors you like & roll’em up & bake them – and voila!  Yes – there are a few steps but none are difficult & the result is delightful.  A tad hard to photograph but really delicious.

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Oh!  I got this new little garlic press at Bed Bath & Beyond for (I think) under ten dollars & I am kind of in love with it.  There are to ways to go with this – sliced or minced (there is a second blade tucked into the base) & all you do is press the garlic through & it creates a little drawer of crushed garlic for you.  Se easy & easy to clean & no garlic fingers!

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Easy Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach and Mushrooms

Should feed 4

INGREDIENTS

2 medium eggplant – tops removed & sliced 1/4 inch thick (thick makes assembly harder)

8 oz mushrooms – sliced

1 lb fresh spinach (or 8 oz frozen or other spinach – thawed)

3-4  cups (28 0z or so) – marinara (your favorite brand or homemade or the one I  post below) or my 5-minute spicy arrabiata 

1 egg

1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or Pecorino)

1/2 cup cottage cheese (or ricotta)

1/4 cup parsley – chopped

4 garlic cloves – chopped

S&P

Olive oil

1 cup grated mozzarella

Parchment paper (if possible but not imperative)

Garnish: more cheese and/or parsley

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the tops off the eggplant & try to cut them evenly 1/4 inch thick.  I used a mandolin.  Lay the slices on paper towels & sprinkle with salt.  Flip & salt the other side (lightly – so they won’t be overpowered by salt).  Salting the eggplant helps release excess moisture & can temper any bitterness.  Let them sit for about ten minutes.

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Steam the fresh spinach by simply boiling a tiny bit of water to a very large stock pot & adding the spinach.  Cover the pan.  It should wilt in less than a minute (this works to thaw frozen spinach, too, though it might take longer).  Strain into a colander & run cold water on it.  Squeeze out as much water as you can & chop the spinach.

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In that same pan. wipe out any water & add a TBS olive oil.  Heat over high & add the mushroom.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt.  Saute until softened – maybe 5 minutes.

Put the mushrooms, spinach, garlic, parsley, egg & your Parmesan & cottage cheese in a large bowl & blend.  Add some S&P.  I used the wooden spoon to break the mushrooms down a bit more.

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Pat the eggplant slices dry & sprinkle with ground pepper.  Place them on a cooking sheet covered in parchment paper (or foil treated with cooking spray – because you do not want these guys sticking).  Bake about ten minutes.

Layer some sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan.  Spread about 2 TBS of the filling on each of the eggplant slices.  If you have extra – spread it around.  Carefully roll those guys up & place them in the pan, seam side down.

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Layer some more sauce on top & then sprinkle with grated mozzarella.  Cover tightly with foil & bake for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven & uncover & let rest a good 5-10 minutes before cutting in.  Serve with more cheese and/or parsley and copious red wine.  See?  You like eggplant!

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Quick Basil Marinara

1 (26-28 oz) container of crushed tomatoes or tomato puree

1 tsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves – chopped

2 bay leave

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cup chopped basil

1-3 tsp crushed red pepper – optional

S&P to taste

Directions

Heat the olive oil over medium heat & saute the garlic for one minute.   Add the rest of the ingredients (except the basil) & simmer on med-low for about 15 minutes.  Season to taste.  Stir in the basil.  Remove from heat.

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