Eggplant rolletini, also known as eggplant rollatini, is a classic Italian dish featuring thin slices of eggplant rolled up and filled with cheese. This vegetarian crowd-pleaser is surprisingly easy to make at home yet delivers restaurant-quality flavor.
An Overview of Eggplant Rollatini
Eggplant rolletini consist of long, thin slices of eggplant that are fried or baked until tender. The eggplant slices are then filled with a creamy ricotta cheese filling, rolled up, and topped with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese before being baked.
The end result is tender, cheesy rolls covered in savory tomato sauce and melted cheese. Eggplant rolletini makes an impressive yet easy main course or side dish. It’s a great choice for potlucks, parties, or Italian night at home.
Benefits of Eggplant Rollatini
There are several benefits to making eggplant rolletini at home:
- Cost savings: Making it yourself costs a fraction of ordering eggplant rolletini at a restaurant.
- Healthier ingredients: You control what goes into it, including fresh, high-quality ingredients.
- Vegetarian: It’s a hearty, satisfying meatless main dish.
- Adaptable: The filling and sauce can be customized in endless ways.
- Impressive presentation: With beautiful layers of sauce, cheese, and tender eggplant, this dish always looks restaurant-quality.
- Leftover-friendly: Eggplant rolletini keeps well for several days refrigerated and reheats beautifully.
Tips for Making the Perfect Eggplant Rollatini
Follow these tips for an eggplant rolletini that looks and tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen:
- Select smaller, slender eggplants. Larger eggplants have thicker flesh and seeds that make rolling difficult. Look for eggplants about 7-8″ long.
- Slice eggplant lengthwise. Cutting lengthwise instead of into rounds yields longer slices that are easier to fill and roll up.
- Salt the eggplant: Sprinkling the eggplant slices with salt helps remove bitterness and excess moisture for a better texture. Let sit for 30 minutes, then pat dry.
- Cook the eggplant properly. Frying or baking until just tender ensures soft, flexible slices that won’t crack or fall apart during rolling.
- Drain excess filling: Drain any excess liquid from the ricotta filling so it doesn’t make the rolls soggy when baking.
- Roll tightly. Tuck in the filling and roll up the eggplant slices tightly so the filling stays securely inside during baking.
- Seam side down: Place the rolls seam side down in the baking dish to prevent the filling from leaking out.
- Prevent sticking: Coat the baking dish with sauce or oil first to stop the delicate eggplant rolls from sticking.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of eggplant works best?
Look for slender, petite eggplants about 7-8 inches long. Larger eggplants have thicker flesh and more seeds, making them harder to roll up. Italian, Japanese, or baby eggplants are all great choices.
Do I really need to salt the eggplant?
Yes, salting is an important step. It draws out the bitterness and excess moisture from the eggplant for the best texture and flavor. Skipping this can lead to soggy rolls.
Can I prep the eggplant and filling ahead of time?
Absolutely! Get the eggplant slices baked or fried, and make the filling a day or two in advance. Assemble the rolls right before baking and serving.
What substitutions can I make for the filling?
The filling is very flexible. Substitute any soft cheese like cottage cheese, goat cheese, mascarpone, or cream cheese. You can also add cooked ground meat, spinach, mushrooms, or sun-dried tomatoes.
Can I freeze eggplant rolletini?
Yes! Assemble the eggplant rolls in a baking dish, but do not top with sauce and cheese. Cover tightly and freeze, then add sauce and cheese and bake directly from frozen when ready to eat.
Baked Eggplant Rollatini
- 2 large eggplants
- Olive oil for frying
- 1⁄2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 cups of marinara sauce
- 1⁄4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil leaves for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- First, slice the eggplants. Cut off the ends and peel the eggplants. Slice lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices. You should get 12–14 slices per eggplant.
- Next, fry the eggplant slices. Heat 1/4 inch of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the eggplant slices in batches for 1-2 minutes per side until lightly browned and tender. Drain on paper towels.
- Make the filling. In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, parmesan, egg, salt, and pepper until well combined.
- Assemble the rolls. Place 2-3 tablespoons of filling on the wider end of each eggplant slice. Gently roll up and place seam side down in a baking dish.
- Top with sauce and cheese. Spoon marinara sauce over the top to cover. Sprinkle with mozzarella.
- Bake until hot and melty. Bake at 375°F for 25–30 minutes until hot and bubbly.
- Finish with fresh basil. Remove from oven, garnish with fresh basil leaves, and serve warm!
- Eggplant tends to soak up oil when fried, so fry in batches and allow the oil to reheat between batches for best results.
- Salting the eggplant before cooking can help remove excess moisture, but be sure to rinse and pat dry well before frying.
- Choose eggplants with smooth, shiny, and tight skin for the best texture and flavor. Avoid those with brown spots or wrinkles.
- Allow eggplant rolls to rest at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving so the filling can set up.
- Customize the filling with your favorite herbs and cheeses. Spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil make tasty additions!
- When rolling eggplant slices, place the filling on the wider end and roll away from you for the tightest rolls.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.