Stuffed Eggplant Rolls with Spinach & Feta
- Serves 6-8:
- 3 eggplants
- ¼ cup olive oil, or more
- 1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- For the filling:
- 10 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces feta cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 eggs, beaten
- For the tomato sauce:
- ¼ cup oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, grated
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½-1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 375 °F, 190 °C.
Prepare the eggplant:
Slice each eggplant lengthwise into 6-8 slices. Sprinkle the eggplant slices generously with salt and place in a colander to drain. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, up to 1 hour. Their bitter juices will drain, and the eggplant will be tender.
Rinse the eggplant with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
The eggplant slices can be pan fried, baked, or grilled. To bake them, place the slices on 2-3 sheet pans and brush the eggplant with some olive oil on both sides. Bake (at 400 °F) the trays until the eggplant is soft. About 20 minutes.
To grill the eggplant slices, brush them with some olive oil and grill them 4-5 minutes on each side.
To pan-fry the eggplant slices, place some olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and cook the eggplant 3-4 minutes per side. Set the cooked soft eggplant slices aside on a tray until all of the slices are ready.
Make the sauce:
Combine the olive oil and onions in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until soft and golden.
Add the garlic and heat through about 30 seconds.
Add the crushed tomatoes along with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (if using), oregano, and sugar. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the sauce thickens. About 15-20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Add chopped parsley and mix well.
Make the Filling:
Warm the olive oil along with the garlic clove over medium heat for a few seconds or just until the garlic releases its aroma. Take care not to burn it or it will become extremely bitter.
Add the chopped spinach and cook just until it wilts, stirring often.
Place the wilted spinach in a large mixing bowl. Add the ricotta cheese, crumble the feta into the bowl, add the dill, and season with some black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Taste and add salt if needed. Mix in the beaten eggs and set aside.
Assemble the Eggplant Rolls:
Place a spoonful of the spinach filling on the bottom of each eggplant slice, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of shredded mozzarella cheese on top and roll it up.
Pour 2/3 of the tomato sauce in a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and the remaining sauce in an 8 by 8-inch baking dish.
Place the stuffed eggplant rolls on top of the sauce.
Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the tops of the eggplants are golden.
You may use Béchamel instead of tomato sauce if desired. Recipe follows.
This dish keeps well in the freezer, before baking. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap then freeze. When ready to bake, thaw the day before overnight in the refrigerator then bake at 375 °F for 30-35 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly.
Garnish with finely sliced scallions for even more flavor.
For the Béchamel Sauce:
4 cups whole milk, warmed
½ cup olive oil or melted butter
½ all-purpose flour
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup shredded parmesan or gruyere cheese
To make the Béchamel sauce:
Combine the flour and oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk well while cooking a few minutes until toasted.
Slowly add the milk in and whisk well to incorporate so that it is smooth and creamy.
Cook until it comes to a boil and thickens. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from heat.
Whisk the eggs together in a bowl. Add some of the hot milk mixture into the eggs and whisk to temper them so that they don't scramble when added to the cream sauce.
Add the eggs to the sauce and whisk well.
Add the parmesan (Gruyere) cheese and mix to combine.