This dish emulates Italian involtini–thinly-sliced eggplant is wrapped around a stuffing of ricotta and mozzarella cheese and then smothered in a tomato sausage sauce and baked. Young eggplants or Asian varieties can be cooked without pre-salting or peeling.
1 1/2 lb. Italian or Asian eggplant, trimmed and cut lengthwise into slices 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. olive oil
Salt, to taste
5 oz. Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small pieces
4 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat an oven to 450°F.
Brush the eggplant on both sides with the 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned underneath, about 10 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake until tender, 5 to 7 minutes more. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350° F.
In a fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Add the sausage and sauté until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, mozzarella, 2 Tbs. of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Spread half of the sauce on the bottom of a 9-inch baking dish. Place a spoonful of the cheese mixture near the wide end of each eggplant slice, roll up, and place upright or upside down in the sauce. Spoon the remaining sauce between the rolls. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 Tbs. Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake until the sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Make the most of summer eggplants with these other eggplant dishes.