Today is my Dad’s birthday he would have been 83. He left this earth almost 7 years ago, but he remains a part of me, and our family forever. Growing up I have such fond memories of him in the kitchen. He loved to cook, breakfasts were a big deal for him to make for us, since he was always up, and off to work long before we ever got up for school. Italian suppers were also his thing, Chicken Parm, Eggplant Parm, or Eggplant Rollatini, pastas galore. You name it he made it!
Today I am paying tribute to him by taking one of his favorites and making it my own. With this dish, Pistachio Crusted Eggplant Rollatini I take thinly sliced eggplant, lightly fried in a breading of breadcrumbs and chopped pistachios give this a deep nutty flavor, that pairs perfectly with the creamy ricotta filling and marinara sauce. To me, this is comfort food at it’s best and carries such fond memories of love, food and family, and I am blessed to be able to share this special part of me with you all. I think he would love this dish and I know he is smiling down on me today!! In life, one of the greatest joys is family. La Famiglia!
I hope you give this Pistachio Crusted Eggplant Rollatini a try!
Ti amo papá!
Thinly sliced eggplant, salted and drained for 15-20 minutes in a colander, assures that the eggplant will not be bitter. Dry completely with paper towels. Assemble your dipping station. One vessel for eggs mixed with a splash of milk, one for the breadcrumbs mixed with the chopped pistachios. Let them sit on a baking sheet lined with a baking rack to let excess breadcrumbs fall.
Fry in skillet with EVOO, on medium high heat, being careful not to crowd pan, or let get too brown. About 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to another baking sheet lined with a baking rack. Place paper towel underneath to catch excess oil. Blot eggplant lightly with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of Kosher salt while still warm.
In a 9×13 baking dish, add a generous layer of homemade or jar marinara sauce. Set aside.
In a large bowl mix the ricotta cheese, Pecorino Romano cheese, mozzarella, parsley, and nutmeg. Mix well. Begin to spoon the ricotta mixture onto the eggplant. Roll and place in the baking dish on top of the marinara sauce.
Finish with all rolls the same way, placing in a single layer.
Top the rolls with a generous layer of gravy. Yum this looks so good already!!
Top with a sprinkling of Pecorino Romano cheese and mozzarella. Cover with foil. Place in 375° oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and let get bubbly and golden another 15 minutes or so. Remove from oven cover loosely with foil. Let rest about 15 minutes and serve immediately. Top with chopped Italian flat leaf parsley and Pecorino Romano cheese if desired. Mangia!
Pistachio Crusted Eggplant Rollatini
A modern spin on an Italian classic, that's elegant, but not overstated, and gives the eggplant a nice depth of flavor, and pairs perfectly with the creamy ricotta filling!
- You can omit the pistachio nuts and make the recipe as a traditional eggplant rollatini.
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 1/2 cups of Italian flavoured breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup of chopped pistachios
- 2 or 3 eggs depending on the size of your eggplant, eggs lightly beaten with a splash of milk
- 1 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese and more for sprinkling over eggplant before baking
- 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
- chopped fresh parsley
- 3/4 tsp. of nutmeg
- 2 cups of marinara sauce homemade or store-bought is fine
- Kosher salt, and cracked black pepper to taste
- EVOO for frying
- To peel or not to peel? That is the question I peel for this recipe, you don’t need to. My Dad used a sharp knife and that is how I make mine. You could opt for a mandolin, but use the finger guard. I received five stitches a year ago, as a result of not using mine! After listening to a lengthy lecture from my beloved doctor and my fireman in unison, I vowed not to make that mistake again! After slicing eggplant, season with salt and place in a colander to drain, this helps take some of the bitter bite out of the eggplant. About 15 minutes. Pat dry with paper towel.
- In a large pie plate or similar vessel, beat eggs with milk, in a separate vessel, add breadcrumb, and chopped pistachios. Dip eggplant in egg, let drain for a minute then in breadcrumb mixture, patting lightly so mixture adheres to eggplant. Place on baking sheet lined with a baking rack, finish, all and set aside.
- Heat marinara sauce of low simmer, while you prepare a large skillet on medium high heat, with some EVOO, for frying. Begin to fry the eggplant, careful not to crowd the pan. About three to four minutes per side depending on your stove top, you want a nice golden color, not overdone as it will cook in the oven. Place eggplant to drain on baking rack.
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- In a large bowl, add ricotta cheese, pecorino Romano cheese, 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella, nutmeg, fresh Italian flat leaf parsley chopped, and Kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste. Set aside.
- In a 9×13 baking dish layer with the marinara sauce. On a cutting board take a fried eggplant slice, it should be pliable to fill and roll, fill by teaspoonfuls, careful not to overfill, and roll the eggplant. Place on top of the marinara sauce, and continue in the same fashion. Top with a layer of marinara sauce, a sprinkle of Pecorino Romano cheese, and shredded mozzarella cheese. **I make mine old school Italian like my Dad, covering with generous amounts of sauce, grated cheese, and mozz, there are variations of this to expose the rollatini, but I do it the way my Dad and Grandma did! Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes, then remove foil and allow cheese to get lightly golden and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven cover with foil to allow cheeses to cool slightly, about 15 minutes, remove foil, and serve immediately with a sprinkling of Pecorino Romano cheese if desired. Mangia!