I always do my grocery shopping by first reading the circular. I check out what is on sale, I think about what I have on hand, and I let the two macerate with a splash of creative thinking before writing out my shopping list. As much as I like being spontaneous, the fact is we're on a budget and I loathe (loathe) seeing food go to waste. I always try to use up ingredients on hand first and only purchase what we need. Fridays we tend to try to make a nice dinner together since Thom works Sunday through Thursday nights leaving us only two nights per week to have dinner together. The weather in Boston is still pretty warm, we have loads of basil on the patio and this week, locally grown eggplant is on sale.
As I started thinking about what to make with eggplant I immediately gravitated towards eggplant Parmigiano. But... living in the North End it's a staple on most restaurant menus and I wanted something a little lighter. I thought back to a recipe I learned for stuffed zucchini blossoms and decided to try my hand at a hybrid between the two. The result became this recipe for grilled eggplant involtini. Note - this recipe is meant for two. In addition to the involtini make 4 servings of a basic risotto. Save the extra filling, extra risotto, and extra vegetables to make risotto cakes with sauteed vegetables the next day.
Grilled Eggplant Involtini - serves 2
1 Italian eggplant
2 large red peppers
1 Roma tomato
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 C milk
4T grated parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1T basil, chiffonade
1t lemon zest
salt & pepper to taste
Peel the eggplant and cut four large slices from the center about 3/16th of an inch each (slightly less than a quarter inch). I find it helps to hold the top of the slice while you bring the blade down through the rest of eggplant so the slice doesn't flop over or break.
Dice the remainder of the eggplant and set aside for our other dish. Salt the eggplant slices and set aside to drain. Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the filling and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Wash the pepper and tomato. The pepper we will grill whole since we want roasted red peppers, but the tomato you will cut in half. Remove the seeds, drizzle a little olive oil on the tomato and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cavity with the minced garlic. Heat the grill. You will need to char the red peppers but simply grill the eggplant and tomato (skin side down - do not flip). Bring all ingredients inside to cool. Once the peppers are cool peel off the blackened skin, gently tear (or cut) into fillets (3-4 per pepper) and remove the seeds and stem. Peel off the skin of the tomato, chop the tomato and set aside.
You're going to use the standard breading procedure with our seasonings listed above: a plate of AP flour seasoned with salt and pepper; a dish of egg wash seasoned with salt and pepper and sprinkled with two tablespoons of parmesan cheese and a dish of panko seasoned with salt and pepper, oregano and two tablespoons of parmesan. Gently roll the involtini in the seasoned flour making sure to cover the two open ends, then the seasoned egg wash and finally the seasoned panko. Let rest 15 minutes in the refrigerator.