Eggplant rolatini and salad with peach vinaigrette

I used to hate eggplant. My three brothers and I made a no-eggplant pact. We figured if we banded together we could convince my mom not to make it for us. Who could blame us? How about some bitter spongy slices sawed from those fat purple blobs, then coated in egg and bread crumbs and pan fried, for you?

The eggplant ban lasted for decades and then one day a thin, balsamic-roasted slice ended up in a roasted vegetable sandwich. Hmmmm. Pretty good. Then a friend made honey roasted eggplant and I started to rethink eggplant.

What clinched it was overhearing a recipe described a the farmer’s market: roasted eggplant slices, spread with goat cheese and pesto, rolled up and topped with fresh tomato sauce.

So, now that the eggplant ban is officially lifted, I’m making my favorite eggplant dish with my mom and dad, who always thought the ban was ridiculous but gave in to us because we ate everything else they put on our plates. This is a great dish to make for company because it’s vegetarian and easily made vegan, and you can do most prep ahead of time, which means more time to spend with your friends.

Menu
Artichoke and olive tapenade with crackers
Mixed greens with peaches, almonds, and peach vinaigrette
Eggplant rolatini with tomato sauce over linguini
Strawberry sorbet

Artichoke and olive tapenade
1 14-ounce can or jar of artichoke hearts in water
1/3 cup zesty olives, pitted (I used briny green ones)

Rinse artichoke hearts and put in a strainer and press to remove water. Put in food processor and pulse with the olives, being careful to chop and mix but not overprocess the olives and artichokes. Taste, and add salt and pepper of needed. Serve with crackers or toasted baguette slices.

Mixed greens with peaches, almonds, and peach vinaigrette
6-8 cups of washed and dried lettuce of your choice, torn or sliced into ribbons
6-8 large basil leaves, torn
2 large or 4 small peaches, cut into small wedges (peel before slicing if they are fuzzy), with 1 small peach or large half peach set aside
1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 TBS honey
2 TBS rice vinegar
1/3 cup olive or canola oil
1/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted
Parmesan cheese, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler (optional)

1. To make the dressing, put the chopped garlic in a small bowl with a pinch of salt, and with a pestle, round end of a citrus reamer, or a fork, mash it into a paste. Peel the skin off the small peach or large half and finely chop it. Add it to the garlic and mash it. Add the honey, vinegar, and oil, and whisk with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. To assemble and dress the salad, slice the peaches and set aside. Put two spoonfuls of dressing on the bottom of the salad bowl. Add lettuce and basil and toss to lightly coat the lettuce. Sprinkle the peach slices, almonds, and parmesan (if using) on top of the lettuce. Drizzle a bit more dressing on top, and add some cracked black pepper and serve.
Serves 4-6 as a light first course

Eggplant rolatini with pesto and tomato sauce
The recipe takes some advanced prep or you can use premade tomato sauce and pesto. In a pinch, Trade Joes’ bruschetta works well for the tomato sauce.
I like to make the tomato sauce and pesto the day before and then the assembly is simple and fast. You can also put the dish togther in the morning, and refrigerate it, and bring it to room temperature before heating it and serving it over pasta.

2 lbs thin white or purple eggplant
olive oil
8 oz goat cheese or extra firm tofu crumbled and sprinkled with a pinch of salt
1 recipe basil pesto (you need about 1 cup, plus more if you want to serve over pasta)
1 recipe fresh tomato sauce (you need about 2 cups, plus more to serve over pasta if desired)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into strips about 1/4 inch thick. Put on baking sheets, brush both sides lightly with oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast until soft, about 10-15 minutes, turning them after about 8 minutes. Let cool.

2. Spread each slice with a thin layer of pesto, then spread with goat cheese or tofu. Roll up the eggplant, and place it in a roasting pan or other pan with at least 3-inch high sides. Continue until all eggplant is used up or pan is full.

3. Top with tomato sauce. Cover with foil.

4. Heat at 350 degrees for 20 minutes covered and then remove foil and continue baking until it’s heated all the way through and is bubbling.

5. Optional: while heating the eggplant, cook your pasta of choice.

6. Serve the rollatini with pasta with extra tomato sauce.
Serves 4-6

Pesto recipe
2 cups fresh basil, washed and stems removed
1 TBS packed fresh mint leaves, washed and stems removed (optional)
1 small clove garlic, chopped
2 TBS pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients except 1/4 cup of oil into the food processor and pulse until blended, then add remaining olive oil to machine as it’s running. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Fresh tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 TBS olive oil
2 1/2 lbs ripe tomatoes, with a mix of red and yellow ones if available
1TBS each of torn or chopped fresh basil and oregano
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil over medium heat in medium-sized pan, add garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes, bring to a simmer, cooking about 10 minutes. Stir in fresh herbs and add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat.

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One thought on “Eggplant rolatini and salad with peach vinaigrette

  1. Amy, Amy, Amy, you are a PRO! I am delighting in this blog, salivating by the minute, and wondering when you will be doing a book of your best??? (I mean it.)
    fbk

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