Roasted Eggplant Rollatini with Beet Greens

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When I was a kid, I hated eggplant.  I thought it was gross.  I loathed it really.  The seeds freaked me out.  The skin was stringy and the flesh was mushy.  Did not like it.  Refused to eat it at all costs.  Not even fried eggplant (which is ridiculous).  Just wouldn’t touch it.  My mother, on the other hand, knew that I was most likely more freaked out with the idea of eggplant, than the actual flavor of it.  So she lied.  Yes!  My sweet mother lied to her little innocent daughter.  Scandalous!

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vegetarian recipes, eggplant, eggplant recipes, eggplant rollatini, healthy recipes, vegetarian

We would have “lasagna” for dinner.  And being the dumb kid I was, I had absolutely no clue I was eating a huge portion of eggplant parmesan.  Yea…I may not have been all that bright.  Well, let’s go with maybe I was just so hungry I didn’t notice?  Either way, year after year, my mother pulled one right over my eyes.  Serving me eggplant parm and telling me it was lasagna.  Lasagna…yea right!  Luckily for her, it was a very smooth transition from being lied to and hating eggplant, to finally realizing what I was eating and loving eggplant.  You’re lucky mother!!

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vegetarian recipes, eggplant, eggplant recipes, eggplant rollatini, healthy recipes, vegetarian Needless to say, now my mom’s eggplant parm is probably one of the top favorite dishes of mine.  Very highly coveted by all members of the family actually.  Crunchy fried eggplant, smothered in homemade sauce and topped with copious amounts of melted mozzarella cheese.  What the heck isn’t there to love about that?  At this point in my life (and what my mom realized all along) is that anything covered in tomato sauce and cheese is delicious.  Anything!

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vegetarian recipes, eggplant, eggplant recipes, eggplant rollatini, healthy recipes, vegetarian Her eggplant parm is saved for special occasions – beach vacations, ski weekends and holidays.  And since I missed this year’s beach vacation, I missed out on the yearly serving of heaping mounds of pasta accompanied by a steaming tray of eggplant parmesan.  What?!    I was only slightly depressed….because I whipped up something similar myself.  Eggplant Rollatini with Beet Greens.

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Slightly different.  But of course, my dish included the ever important homemade sauce and mozzarella!  This is a great dish to make ahead (I did it over the weekend) and then dinner is basically done and just needs to be heated in the oven.  It’s also, thankfully, slightly healthier than the traditional eggplant parm – stuffed full of vitamin packed beet greens, low-fat cheese and lots of tomato sauce.  A comforting guilt free twist on the classic.  Perfect fall dish.  Yum!

Roasted Eggplant Rollatini with Beet Greens:
Ingredients:

  • Quick Homemade Sauce:
    • 28 oz can Whole San Marzano tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1 tbsp dried oregano
    • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
    • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Filling:
    • 2 cups beet greens – or any other dark green you like
    • 1 clove of garlic
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
    • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 20 oz fat-free ricotta
    • 1/2 + 1/2 cups mozzarella
    • 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup tightly packed basil
  • 2 large eggplants, sliced length-wise in 1/2 in slices

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  2. Lay out eggplant slices on a sheet tray (or two) and slightly spray with olive oil or non stick cooking spray.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for about 30 minutes or until eggplant is slightly golden and pliable.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. Reduce oven heat to 375.
  5. Begin making homemade sauce.  In a medium pot add in olive oil, garlic, red pepper if using and oregano.  Saute for 1-2 minutes or until spices are fragrant.
  6. Add in the whole tomatoes – lightly crushing them with your hands or with a potato masher – depending on how chunky you like your sauce.  Add in the 1/2 cup of water and salt and pepper.
  7. Bring sauce to a gentle simmer and then reduce to medium low.  Cook for about 30 minutes until sauce has reduced slightly.  Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  8. To make filling begin by sautéing the beet greens in the olive oil with garlic over medium high heat.  Cook until completely wilted – allow to cool slightly.  Drain any excess liquid by squeezing greens in a clean dish towel or in some cheesecloth.
  9. Mix together the ricotta, egg, mozzarella, parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and beet greens together.  Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  10. To make the eggplant rolls, pour about 1/2 cup of the sauce into a 8″x8″ square baking dish and spread around.
  11. Lay out a few of the eggplant slices, the fatter end towards you.  Pile about 1/4-1/3 cup of the filling at each end of the eggplant (this will vary depending on how big your eggplants are).  Roll gently and place eggplant rolls seam side down into the pan.
  12. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices – you will most likely have some leftover filling.  Cover the top of all the eggplant with more sauce.  Top with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.
  13. Bake in a 375F oven for about 30-40 minutes until warmed through, cheese is melted and golden brown on top.  Serve hot.

You tell me!  Did your parents lie to you about foods?  What foods did you dislike as a child?  Do you like them now?

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