Do you sweat your eggplant?
I used to. When I was still living under my parent’s roof, following my mother’s cooking rules I had always to sweat eggplants before cooking them. “It will absorb less oil if you sweat them,” she would tell me. Then, I moved away, get married and became rebellious against some of what I’ve learned, thinking it was obsolete, a waste of time to sweat my eggplants. I have my own kitchen, my own knifes and pans, no more: “It’s for dessert, don’t touch it!” I can do what I want; eat what I want, when I want.
I don’t fry eggplants; I roast them or broil them so there is no need to sweat them, I would tell my self. Of course I was wrong and my mother was right once again.
Sweating eggplant before cooking it not only helps tenderize the flesh’s texture but also reduces some of its bitter taste. When buying eggplants, choose the one that are firm to the touch with a smooth and shiny skin and no blemishes. And when it comes to the size the smaller the better. Big eggplant tends to be too spongy, bitter and with a tougher outer skin than the small ones. Although now available in markets throughout the years, eggplants are at their very best from August through October when they are in season.
I saw this recipe of ricotta balls on Nicky and Oliver’s gorgeous website and I had to try it right away; especially when I saw that the recipe was taken from Arte, one of my all time favorite TV channels.
On their website, they served them just as is with the salsa, but I wanted something different, definitely not pasta as it sounded a bit heavy for dinner. So this is how I came up with this vegetarian stuffed eggplant rolls for the enjoyment of my hubby who is a great meat-eater. Actually, even him didn’t miss the meat, as it is a very satisfying, very smooth and melt in your mouth dish. The ricotta stuffing has a texture similar to gnocchi but lighter and fresher, and the eggplant its self has a meaty quality to it and a bite that goes perfectly with the creaminess of the ricotta.
Overall, I would recommend this recipe to anyone who loves eggplant, but also to anyone who is still reticent to eating or cooking with eggplant. It was a very enjoyable dinner indeed, worth the sweating and waiting.
I am taking this recipe to the popular Weekend herb blogging, hosted this week by Myriam.
Stuffed Eggplant Rolls
- 1 eggplant, sliced vertically
- Kosher salt
For the Salsa finta
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 mid-sized onion, finely diced
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 21 ounces canned tomatoes, whole or crushed (including juice)
- A generous dash of sugar
- Sea salt (or Kosher salt), freshly ground black pepper
- A handful of fresh basil leaves
For the Polpette di ricotta:
- 9 ounces ricotta
- 1 ½ ounces freshly grated parmesan
- 1 mid-sized egg
- 3 ½ ounces breadcrumbs
- A handful chopped fresh parsley
- Sea salt (or Kosher salt), freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg to taste
- 2-3 tbsp of salsa finta
Sprinkle the sliced eggplant with a very generous amount of kosher salt. Put them over a colander and sweat it from 30 minutes to 1hour and a half, until a brown liquid comes out of the eggplants. Rinse and pat dry the eggplants. Brush each side of eggplants with some olive oil. Broil them or grill them on each side until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper while still hot. Set aside.
For the sauce: In a pan heat the oil. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add the tomato puree, then the canned tomatoes, crushed. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and the sugar.
Let it cook for 15 minutes and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
For the ricotta balls: Drain the ricotta over a fine-mesh sieve for at least an hour. In a large bowl, put the ricotta with the Parmesan, egg, two or three tbsp of salsa finta and parsley. Add the breadcrumbs gradually until you achieve a consistency that allows you to roll the ricotta into balls. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Mix until well incorporated. If the mix is too smooth add more breadcrumbs and if too firm add more salsa finta.
Form into logs and stuff each broiled slice of eggplant with it. Roll the stuffed eggplants and keep them tightly closed with toothpicks, Put them in the pan of salsa finta and let them cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes stirring from time to time to ensure even cooking. Just before serving add the basil leaves.
In francais please:
- Une aubergine, coupee verticalement en lamelles
- Du sel
Pour La Sauce Finta:
- 4 c.s d’huile d’olive
- 1 oignon moyen
- 2 c.s de tomate en conserve
- 600g de tomates pelées et coupée
- Une bonne pincée de sucre
- Sel, poivre fraichement moulu
- Une poignée de basilic
Pour Les boulettes de Ricotta:
- 250g de ricotta
- 40-50g de parmesan fraichement râpé
- 1 oeuf moyen
- 100g de chapelure
- Une poignée de persil, haché
- Du sel, poivre
- 2-3 c.s de sauce finta
Mettre les aubergines dans une passoire. Saupoudrer genereusement de sel et laisser degorger de 30 min jusqu’a 1 heure 30. Rincer les aubergine et bien les secher a l’aide d’une serviette. Badigeonner chaque lamelle d’huile d’olive et griller ou cuire sous le grill du four jusuq’a ce qu’elles deviennent bien dorées. Mettre de coté.
Pour la sauce finta, faites chauffe l’huile d’olive dans une poele. Ajouter les oignons et laisser cuire jusqu’a ce qu’il deviennent transluscides. Ajouter la tomate en conserve, les tomates coupée en dés, sel, poivre et le sucre. Laisser cuire 15 min et assaisonner plus si necessaire.
Pour les boulettes de ricotta, mettre le fromage de ricotta dans une étamine et laisser égoutter pendant une heure. Dans une jatte, mettre la ricotta, le parmesan, l’oeuf, deux ou trios c.s de sauce finta et le persil haché. Ajouter la chapelure petit a petit jusqu’a ce que vous puissiez faire des boulettes du mélange. Sel, poivre et une pincée de noix de muscade. Mélanger bien. Si le mélange est trop liquide ajouter le reste de chapelure, si il est trop sec ajouter plus de sauce finta.
De ce mélange de ricotta, faire des petits boudins que vous mettrez au milieu de chauqe lamellas d’aubergines. Rouler les aubergines et fermer avec des cure-dents. Mettre les roulades d’aubergine dans la sauce finta et laisser cuire encore 10 min, en tournant de temps en temps pour que la cuisson de la ricotta soit uniforme. Ajouter le basilic juste avant de servir.