Aubergine (Eggplant) Rolls In Tomato Sauce

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It’s frightening blogging about this dish because the very first time I had it it was made by my Sicilian friend Antonina when she was pregnant with her first child…he’s about to go to university this autumn...where has the time gone? Isn’t it funny how you associate a dish with a time and place in your life?

This is a great dish to make as a vegetarian meal by omitting the prosciutto, or as a starter or side dish served along side grilled fish or meat.  The recipe below I left it very simple, it’s just a guideline, you’ll add your twists and adjust amounts of everything according to your taste.  It’s a substantial dish and although there’s the time consuming part of grilling the aubergines, they can be grilled the day before and kept in the fridge and again the same with the whole dish it will happily sit in the fridge for a day once assemble.

This is a dish that even my meat loving Bikerboy and oldest daughter enjoy!

Aubergine (Eggplant) Rolls in Tomato Sauce

(As a main course I would use one aubergine per person, this portion below will serve 5-6 as a starter)

3 aubergines, sliced lengthways
1-2 packs slices of prosciutto or parma ham cut to the right size to fit inside the aubergine
(you can calculate half or quarter slice of ham per slice of aubergine)
2 balls of mozzarella sliced
few leaves of  basil
Olive oil (not extra virgin) to brush the aubergine slices

Tomato Sauce
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tins (cans) of chopped tomato
olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
(always add a tiny bit sugar to balance the acidity of tin (can) tomatoes, fresh tomatoes have sweetness that’s lost in canning process)
black pepper to taste
handful of basil

Make the tomato sauce by adding enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan, add the chopped onion and soften the onion for a few minutes until translucent and golden colour, add the chopped garlic and soften it for another couple of minutes.  Add the 2 tins of tomatoes and salt, pepper and some of the basil chopped or torn.  Let the sauce bubble slowly until thicken and reduced 30-45mins.  Add some more of the basil and let it cool down.

Aubergine (Eggplant) Rolls

Brush the aubergine slices with olive and grill them on a grilled pan or you can fry them.  Just make sure you drain them well on kitchen paper if you fry them.  The aubergines don’t have to be cooked all the way through as you’re going to cook them again but you want them very soft.  Once you have all the aubergines ready start the assembling by placing a piece of ham on top of the aubergine, followed by a basil leaf and a small piece of mozzarella.  I don’t add salt to the rolls because of the saltiness of the ham and cheese but you can sprinkle freshly ground pepper.  Roll up the aubergine into little parcels.

Once you have all the parcels ready, grad a baking dish where all the rolls will fit into in one layer.  Spread a third of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the dish, place all your rolls on top and spread the rest of the tomato sauce over them.  Place the slices of mozzarella on top.

When you’re ready to bake the dish put it in a pre-heated oven at 190C/ 375F / gas 5 for 45 mins – 1 hour.

Tomato Sauce

Fry an onion in olive oil until soften and add the chopped garlic and soften that for a couple of minutes

Add your tins tomatoes, salt, some of the basil leaves and let the sauce bubble away slowly uncovered until reduced down and has thicken, it may take a good 45mins.  Add the remainder of the basil leaves stir them in and let the sauce cool down.

Aubergine (Eggplant) Rolls

Cut the aubergines in length ways and brush them in olive oil (not extra virgin).  Using a heated grilled pan mark the aubergines in both sides until they’re soften and are half way cooked. You can have these prepared well in advanced.

Depending how much prociutto or parma ham you buy cut them down to give you a some ham over each aubergine slice.

Make lots of little parcels by putting a slice of ham, a piece of mozzarella and a basil leaf on top of each aubergine slice and rolling the aubergine.

I made the above rolls for me without mozzarella to see how it tasted for people like me trying to avoid dairy…and  yes the aubergines rolls do taste better with the cheese but I was surprise how acceptably good the rolls could be without it.

In your baking dish, add a third of the sauce on the bottom, place the rolls neatly on top and add the remainder sauce on top and finish it with the remainder of the mozzarella’s slices.