This week the protagonist of our Cook n Bake weekly appointment is a pear-shaped black beauty, which in the vegetable world is also better known as the Eggplant!
Eggplant is a perennial plant that grows annually, but what we eat is not the eggplant itself, it’s the fruit, which is classified – believe it or not!- as a berry. This deep purple fruit tastes bitter when raw, but its flavor immediately elevates to a more complex and rich level, which makes it smoother but never sweet. An health advice, that not a lot of people know about, is to make sure that you rinse the eggplant and drain it well before cooking it, but most of all that you salt it, or else this fruit will absorb cooking fats. Eggplant is very popular in the Mediterranean cuisine, we see it in the French ratatouille, in the Italian parmigiana di melanzane, in the Greek moussaka, and many Asian dishes. In the United States, the major production is located in Georgia.
Rometti would like to introduce you to one of the many ways to use eggplants, which by the way are perfect for rice, orzo, and meat stuffing. We chose a delicate way of cooking it and present it, the Involtini di Melanzane alla Mediterranea (Mediterranean Eggplant Rolls).
This dish is fresh, savory, and is a great start to a fun, Summer dinner with friends. The Involtini di Melanzane are grilled slices of eggplant spread with tomato sauce, minced black olives, basil and mozzarella, and put in the oven for a few minutes. These delicious bites can be served either hot or cold, and can be garnished with some fresh basil leaves.
Ingredients (for 12 rolls):
12 Basil leaves
12 Eggplant slices
120 g Mozzarella
1 tbsp Olive oil
15 Seedless black olives
1 tsp Oregano
120 ml Tomato sauce
Wash the eggplants and slice them into 12 slices of about 1/4″ (1/2 cm). Salt them and let them drain (on a cutting board or in a drainer) for about 20-30 minutes to get rid of all the water.
Grill the slices, each side for about 1-2 minutes.
Mix the tomato sauce with salt, pepper, oregano, and olive oil. Spread them on each slice, add a few mozzarella dices, minced black olives and a minced leaf of basil. Roll them up, and place them on a tray anointed with oil, and place them in the oven for about 15 minutes. When you take them out you can garnish the plate with a little olive oil and bass leaves.
image taken from http://www.ondaiblea.it/2012020744349/laboratorio-dei-sapori-involtini-di-melanzana.html