SMAM: Eggplant Rollatini

January 27, 2013


One thing we’ve been really good about during Shrink-My-Ass-Month is limiting the number of meals we’ve eaten out.  This dedication to in-home dining sort of sucks for the one who’s the cook in the family (and the food shopper in the family), but eating out is just too dangerous.  You have very little control at a restaurant; even if you order something that you “think” is healthy, some sneaky chef could be plying your meal with butter, oil, cream.  Shifty buggers, those chefs.

Last week when I made The Weekend Grocery Trek from Hades, I noticed that eggplant was on sale. Now normally, I’m not a big eggplant person, because the huge eggplants they sell at most supermarkets can be bitter and have the texture of styrofoam. I’m not very interested in eating styrofoam, thank you very much. But these were lovely, firm, smallish eggplant. I plopped three in my cart and then wondered what the heck I was going to do with them. Does anyone else shop this way?

When I shop, I do have a list, but what I get in the produce and meat departments depends on what looks freshest and what’s on sale. I know people who make strict meal plans for the week and shop accordingly, but I just can’t do it. What if I plan on enchiladas but the avocados are dodgy and the corn tortillas hard as rocks? That would seriously piss me off. To spare myself supermarket rage, I plan a few meals and then just “wing” the rest.  It seems foolhardy, but that’s just my way.

As I wandered out of the vegetable aisle, I was immediately drawn to the magic kiosk. Not all supermarkets have the magic kiosk, but our Kroger does. Magic kiosk=Murray’s cheese shop offerings.  Murray’s cheese kicks ass.  It costs more, but it’s way fresher and way better than anything else hangin’ in the deli case. I took one look at all of that beautiful cheese and thought: Eggplant Parmesan.

But there was one leeeetle problem with that idea. Eggplant parmesan, made the way it’s meant to be made, requires the breading and frying of eggplant. Breading and frying are backside suicide, and eggplant is especially bad because it sucks up oil like a sponge. Seriously. Don’t believe me? Order the Eggplant Parmesan at the Olive Garden. 850 calories later (without crack breadsticks!), drive home and cry in your pillow and beg your ass for forgiveness. It’s going to need it.

Dangit, though! I really was in the mood for it now, with my cheap eggplant and my good cheese winking at me inside my grocery cart. Hmph.

Then I remembered this recipe from many moons ago, and realized that I could grill the eggplant, not fry it. Sure, it wouldn’t be the original thing, but SMAM and “the original thing” can’t be in the same room together. A girl’s gotta improvise during SMAM.

I unloaded my overflowing grocery cart and headed home. Then I tackled the Leaning Tower of Food Rags and every “healthy” cookbook I own.  I settled on a version from Cooking Light magazine, but of course, I had to tinker with it.  The CL recipe called for homemade tomato sauce. Not happening. Have you seen how expensive tomatoes are right now? And those are the shitty winter tomatoes! Outrage!

I used jarred Muir Glen marinara sauce. Worked fine. As did substituting some fresh mozzarella for the parmesan on top of the rollatini, because my hunk of parm was pathetic. Low on basil? Substitute fresh parsley. Want some kick? Add crushed red pepper. You kind of get where this is going? This recipe is pretty hard to mess up.

It’s also delicious. It satisfied my Eggplant Parmigiana craving without the guilt. Olive Garden, you can kiss my (not expanding) ass.


Eggplant Rollatini

slightly adapted from Cooking Light magazine

serves 4


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups tomato sauce, either homemade or store-bought

12 (1/4-inch thick slices eggplant (about 2 medium)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cooking spray

2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted

1 ounch whole-wheat French bread, toasted and torn into pieces

8 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 large egg

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil, divided

2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup) and divided

If eggplant is a little tough or contains a large number of seeds, salt the eggplant slices well and drain in a colander for about twenty minutes. Rinse eggplant under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Preheat broiler to high.

Sprinkle eggplant slices with a little salt and pepper. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Lightly coat eggplant with cooking spray. Broil eggplant for 4 minutes; turn slices over and broil 4 minutes more or until lightly browned. Cool for 10 minutes.

Place garlic cloves in a mini-food processor or blender. Add pine nuts and toasted bread and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add ricotta, lemon zest, red pepper and egg; pulse until smooth. Stir in the chopped parsley and half of the torn basil leaves. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Spread 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce over the bottom of an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread 2 tablespoons ricotta mixture onto each eggplant slice; roll up jelly-roll fashion. Place rolls, seam-sides down, over sauce in dish. Spoon remaining sauce over rolls. Sprinkle with remaining Parmigianno-Reggiano. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with remaining basil.

Serve 3 rolls per person for a main dish.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Katybeth January 27, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Just not an eggplant fan, but I loved the story! Your ability to list and wing at the same time is so impressive. And now, I am starving for some bread sticks from Olive Garden.
Ice storm in Chicago…we are laying low and loving it.


Abby January 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Sounds good to me (minus the dairy)! I’ve never actually experimented with eggplant for the exact reasons you mentioned–they can be fussy and go from firm and flavorful to soggy and sad in the blink of an eye. But if your picture is any indication, yours did not suffer that fate. And neither did your ass.


Maggie S. January 27, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Do you even know how shifty and subversive I’d have to be to get anyone in my house to eat eggplant? Do you have a tutorial on sneaking eggplant past a “corn-man” and two girls who’ve made up their minds?


TKW January 28, 2013 at 8:48 am


My children would not eat this, so I am of no help to you on that front. My husband isn’t an eggplant person, but he is pretty willing to try anything I make, especially if I offer him incentive *winkwink* later.


Amy Whitley January 27, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Well thanks a lot, because the eggplant parm is the only thing I like at Olive Garden, aka the only restaurant the whole soccer team ever agrees on. :)


TKW January 28, 2013 at 8:49 am


Just eat the eggplant and pass on the pasta/salad/crack breadsticks?

Sorry for the buzzkill, there. :(


Jamie January 27, 2013 at 6:24 pm

I tried to fry up some eggplant one time; as a result me and Blondie had to order a pizza. We literally ate one bite of the purple, sodden, greasy mess and threw it away.

PS I plan every meal to a T before braving Trader Joe’s, I think this is the sign of a novice chef!

PPS Do you have Trader Joe’s in your neck of the woods?


TKW January 28, 2013 at 8:51 am


Much to my anger and dismay, we do not have a Trader Joe’s. I want one! I need one! Why on earth are the company executives not catering to my orders?


Velva January 27, 2013 at 6:54 pm

My biggest stress is that during the week my house is chaotic and non-stop. I have yet to show up at the grocery store with a real game plan that I can pull-off during the week (ugh). I have tons of good intentions but have yet to do it.

I enjoy eggplant, so does the hubby. I really like this meal idea. I am totally envious about the Murray’s Cheese shop at your deli. I would be in heaven.

Have a great week.


Mr TKW January 27, 2013 at 7:28 pm

I always feared the eggplant, but this was da bomb! Can’t wait for TKW to make it again.


TKW January 28, 2013 at 8:51 am

Thanks, honey. xo


Arnebya January 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Oh, how sweet. But you do know this means she no longer has to offer “incentive,” yes?


Arnebya January 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I am afraid of the eggplant. Every time I see it I want to try it, but, I get the scareds. I can’t meal plan for the whole week. I mean, I make a plan for the week but in the margins of my notebook paper (shush!) I write backups. Because you’re right: what if the avocado are white spotted? JUST THROW THEM AWAY ALREADY, SAFEWAY; NOBODY’S BUYING THOSE! Or, the asparagus is bendy or they’re out of sweet potatoes. I should really find a new store.


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes January 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm

I totally shop that way!
Grilled eggplant, fried eggplant, whatever way I love that purple oilsucking bastard.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri January 29, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I make a mean eggplant parmigiana, but I am excited to try this version. Husband doesn’t care for ricotta cheese, so I will probably subsitute mozarella.

Eggplant is certainly an underestimated vegetable. It, literally, was a part of my life every week, while growing up in Texas. My Dad loved curried eggplant and potatoes as a part of our meals.


Caitlin January 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm

this is exactly how i grocery shop! whatever is on sale goes in the cart. i learned this from my father “many moons ago” ;)


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