I love breaded eggplant. I love the crunchy exterior & the fleshy interior. It's almost meaty - but it's not because it's a vegetable. When I make eggplant rollatini (think egg plant parmesan but rolled up with yummy ricotta cheese inside) I like to keep the integrity of the crunch, otherwise what’s the point of going through all the motions to bread it in the first place? I ensure the crunch by first baking my eggplant with a mixture of panko (the crunchiest) breadcrumbs ahead of time & then when it’s time to put it all together I use just a little bit of sauce to top them with because the more sauce you add the more mushy (less crispy) it gets - but if that's your thing - sauce away!
This is a great & hearty vegetarian option when you’re going meatless. What are you eating for meatless dinners?
for the eggplant
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs (more might be needed depending on the size of your egg plant)
- 1 tablespoon dried parsely flakes
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup flour
- sea salt
- olive oil
for the filling
- 1 cup ricotta cheese (you may need more)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1 egg
- sea salt & pepper
to put it all together
- 2 cups tomato sauce (you can make your own like I did using this recipe, or you can use jarred - i won’t judge you)
- 1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- First, let me begin by saying that you may need more or less of the ingredients depending on the size of your eggplant. I know that may sound unsettling, but this isn’t baking so if you have to add more breadcrumbs go ahead, or more flour or even another egg - you’ll see what I mean, trust me.
- Pre-Heat your oven to 350.
- Wash & dry the eggplant.
- Cut the eggplant into strips lengthwise (you want them to be long so that you can roll them up).
- Arrange eggplant slices on a clean flat surface (I used my cutting board) & sprinkle sea salt over each piece.
- Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.
- Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with tin foil or parchment paper & set aside.
- When the ten minutes is up you should see small puddles of liquid on each piece of eggplant blot this thoroughly with a paper towel - this is reducing the excess water in the eggplant so you can get a more crispy & tender result.
- Set up three equal sized bowls.
- In the first bowl add the flour & season with salt & pepper. Mix well.
- In the second bowl add the eggs & season with salt & pepper. Mix well.
- In the third bowl add breadcrumbs, dried parsley, granulated garlic, salt & pepper. Mix well. (You should be noticing a pattern here - we’re seasoning every step of the way.)
- Work in an assembly line the three bowls lined up (flour, eggs, breadcrumbs) with the prepared baking sheets at the end.
- Work with each slice of eggplant individually. Start by dredging the naked eggplant slice in the flour first so that both sides are covered in flour.
- Next, dip the flour dredged eggplant in the egg mixture so that the egg now sticks to both floured sides of the eggplant.
- Then, dip the slice into the breadcrumbs so that it is cover completely.
- Place finished slice onto the baking sheet & continue with the rest of the eggplant. Make sure to place them in one layer on the baking sheet so that they can crisp up - you don’t want them to over lap. Use a second baking sheet if you run out of room.
- This is when you may notice you’re running out of flour or egg or breadcrumbs - if you are simply recreate that bowl of ingredients like you did when you first started.
- You may also notice that your hands are getting really gunked up with stuff - feel free to wash in between. I like to try to use one hand to do the dipping so that only one hand gets messy but I usually end up using both.
- When all slices are evenly spaced on the baking sheets drizzle each piece with some olive oil.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes (flipping at the ten minute mark so that each side gets evenly crispy.)
- This is a good time to do a little clean up & to prep your cheese filling.
- Add all the filling ingredients in a bowl & mix well. Set aside.
- if you’re making your sauce or pulling it out of the fridge start doing that now.
- Grate the cheese.
- Remove the eggplant (after 20 minutes) from the oven.
- Set aside to cool.
- Using a 13x9 (that’s at least 2 to 3 inches deep) oven safe baking casserole dish spread about 2 tablespoons of sauce (it can be cold or room temp - or even hot if you’ve just made it) on the bottom.
- Now that your eggplant has cooled it should be easy to handle.
- Put about a tablespoon on the widest end of the eggplant & roll it up towards the smaller end.
- Place each rolled eggplant seam-side down in the casserole dish. You want them to fit snuggly so that they’ll unravel less.
- Do this with all of the egg plant.
- Top rolled up eggplant with a tablespoon or so of sauce - remember we want these crispy so don’t drowned them in the sauce - you should be able to see some of the eggplant.
- Then top with grated mozzarella cheese.
- Bake in the oven (still at 350) for about 30 minutes or until the top cheese is bubbly & slightly golden.
- Serve hot with fresh parsley sprinkled over top & extra sauce on the side.