Tuesday 1 March 2016

Involtini de Melanzane: Baked Eggplant Rolls

I admit my son is a fussy eater and I can do absolutely nothing about it!!
Deep in my heart, somewhere I feel hugely responsible that maybe I haven't done my duty as a mom, being really busy with my work when he was a small child, in introducing healthy eating habits or rather enforcing them. Seriously, put a plate of veggies in front of him and he shrinks away from it as if it is diseased. 
When he was younger, he was fixated on eating only these two vegetables - cauliflower and beans (sadly now he has renounced these too). So for years and years, that is what my maid used to prepare for him in lunch, alternating between the two for a change of flavor. Though, thankfully he loved his fruits, giving me a feeling of false assurance that somehow atleast in some way he is getting his nutrients.
I remember when he was just 7, sending my kids off for a summer camp for a week. When they came back my daughter told me that the young fella did not touch the vegetables and had only Roti (Indian flat bread) for the entire week, headstrong and obstinate that he was!!
And then there was my little daughter, who was an adorable angel as a child and never made a fuss about anything (ofcourse life changes and kids change when they reach their teens!!). To make sure that she didn't suffer the onslaught of cauliflower and beans, a separate dish was made for her as she was one who loved to explore new flavors and taste. Hats off to my good old maid that she did not give up and run away.
The fuss was only about vegetables, but give him a plate of chicken any day and he was quite happy with it. And yes, not to forget mashed potatoes with loads of butter and cheese in it. So over time, I have had my mind frazzled thinking of and devising ways in which I could feed him vegetables hidden in any form so that he doesn't recognize it and eats it happily. I know these are rantings of a frustrated mom so please go ahead and ignore me!!
I guess, I would not be the only one complaining about my kids and I am sure this would be the dilemma of half the moms in the world.  But in the long run everyone survives and so shall he!! Fingers crossed!!
I love experimenting with new recipes. A few days back I came over this recipe of Involtini and it looked delicious and most important really simple to make. Grilled eggplants rolled with a filling of ricotta and baked topped with fresh mozzarella and pasta sauce sounded deliciously appetizing. There is something about eggplants, inspite of its versatility, that most people either like it or hate it. Though the recipe is essentially a meatless version, I threw in a layer of minced meat at the bottom to make it a bit lucrative for the fussy eaters in our house. 
To my surprise the fussy eater loved it!! Yipee!! I felt I had won an Oscar because I was so sure he was not even going to taste it. Maybe the eggplants couldn't be deciphered, well hidden under the bubbling mozzarella cheese and pasta sauce or perhaps the whole combination with the mincemeat did the trick but whatever it was it left me a very happy soul!! And yes I am going to make this dish again soon to make sure it wasn't just a lucky fluke. If you too have a fussy eater in your house, do try this recipe. Who knows you too might hit a jackpot.
Serves 4-6
Prep time: 20 min    Cooking time: 35 minutes

3 medium sized eggplants 
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup raisins soaked in hot water for 10 minutes until they plump up
2 tbsp bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
11/2 tsp dried mint
2 tbsp chopped parsley leaves or 1 tsp dried parsley
1 large egg (can be omitted)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
21/2 cups pasta sauce ( I used a store bought one but you can make it fresh too)
1 large ball fresh mozzarella in 1/4 inch slices
  • Heat oven to 375 F.
  • Cut the eggplant into slices about 1/2" thick. Place a heavy skillet over medium heat. working in batches, brush eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil and cook, turning till the eggplant turns soft. Keep aside to cool.
  • In a large bowl combine feta, pine nuts, raisins, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, bread crumbs, garlic, lemon zest, mint and parsley. Mix in egg and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Spread the eggplant slices on a surface and divide stuffing evenly among them. Place 1 to tbsp. at one end of each slice. Roll up slices tightly to secure filling and place in a 9x13 inch baking dish (or other shallow baking pan in which rolls fit snugly in a single layer)
  • Pour the pasta sauce on top of the eggplant rolls. arrange mozzarella slices in a line lengthwise down center of the pan. Drizzle olive oil evenly over the pan and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Bake until cheese  has melted and eggplant is bubbling and fragrant, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.


  1. I have never had eggplant but have always wanted to try it. Your baked eggplant recipe just may make me take the plunge! Thanks :)

  2. I am a big fan of involtini, and this recipe sounds utterly fantastic!

  3. My goodness that looks amazing!! No wonder your son ate it with gusto. I have two sons who are pretty picky eaters, so I know all about the struggles. It isn't easy!

  4. I LOVE eggplant but I have never actually prepared it at home - I only get it when we are out to dinner. Thank you for the recipe - I will have to try it ASAP!

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