Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Let Your Friends Try This Recipe!
Why we love it:
Consider this gateway eggplant. Think you aren’t a fan of eggplant? This cheesy decadent casserole is the way to start! It will take some time to form the rolls but we trade a little time for ease elsewhere in the prep - and other than that effort, this is a seriously simple meal that bakes unattended. It’s incredible left over too, a great candidate for doubling and eating twice in one week or freezing for later.
1 Eggplant (large, or 2 smaller ones, at least 2 ½ pounds total)
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt (divided)
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon Black Pepper (freshly ground)
2 cups Ricotta Cheese
1 Lemon (zest and juice)
3 cups Mozzarella (shredded) (divided)
1 28-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes (or marinara sauce)
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
4 cups Spring Mix Salad Greens
3 Tablespoons Salad Dressing (of your choice)
1 bunch Basil (optional)
1. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 375 DEGREES
Slice off the very top and a tiny bit of the bottom of the eggplant. Use a peeler lengthwise between the slices on 2 sides of the eggplant only (though round-ish, picture it being a square and peel 2 sides). Slice lengthwise, as thin and even as you can, aiming for ¼” slices. Begin your slices on the peeled side so that each piece has a thin strip of skin only on the sides.
Lay eggplant on a baking sheet and toss with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano. Lay evenly, overlapping is ok. Roast for about 12 minutes, opening the oven to rotate and flip the slices about halfway through. Remove when they’re lightly browned in places and soft.
4. CHEESE + SAUCE
Meanwhile, stir together the ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 2 cups ricotta cheese, zest and juice of the lemon, and ½ of the mozzarella - that’s 1 ½ cups.
If using plain tomatoes, open the can and stir in the garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of salt. If using marinara sauce, just open it.
Use a 9 x 13 casserole dish or any shape you have. Pour about half of the tomato sauce in.
Lay an eggplant slice in front of you, add about 1 ½ -2 Tablespoons of cheese, and roll firmly but don’t squeeze it out the sides (the amount of cheese can vary by how sturdy or wide each slice is. If any have holes in them or aren’t perfectly shaped, add less cheese and just roll anyway, some gaping out is totally fine).
Place seam side down in the dish, nestled in the sauce. Repeat until done. Top with the rest of the tomato sauce and cheese.
Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
Serve with lettuces tossed with salad dressing. Leftovers can be frozen or refrigerated.
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dairy free ricotta works well here, I wouldn’t even both with a DF mozzarella sub
COW DAIRY FREE:
a mixture of fresh chevre and lots of pecorino will be delicious. You could consider adding some feta too
ok ok, I didn’t convince you? Make this same filling and sauce, but stuff into large shells instead. You could also try rolling with zucchini, which tastes great but is slightly more finicky because t zucchini is so much thinner
defrosted spinach (squeeze out excess water) is great folded into the cheese
use your favorite marinara sauce
if you have some on hand, stack the leaves and chiffonade, stir into the filling or just generously serve over top
Kid Friendly Version
- Boil some pasta to go along with this meal for anyone who doesn’t love eggplant
- Stuff a few pieces with a mozzarella heavy blend for a more familiar texture
- Chop the rolls into bite sized pieces because they can be intimidating to cut unless skilled with a knife
- Serve with bread and raw veggies
- Deconstruct by taking any falling apart, cooked slices of eggplant and chop them up for a soft texture
- Serve with a little cheese, either melted or cold and shredded
- Let them try a bite of full dish - be careful because it gets extremely hot inside
For Choosy Eaters
- Try an eggplant roll that isn’t in the sauce - put a few rolls to the side on a baking sheet, top with breadcrumbs and a dab of butter. Bake. They can try to dip in the tomato sauce (or not)
- Stuff the cheese mixture into large pasta shells or tubes. Or just serve plain pasta, mozzarella and a small sample of the eggplant either rolled with cheese, or just roasted
- Be sure to include lettuce and raw veggies or fruit and bread
Prep Ahead & Use It Up
- Mix up the cheese mixtures
- Roast the eggplant strips and store flat
- Make and roll up the eggplant, assemble the casserole dish. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or wrap well and freeze for a few months. To bake, top with cheese and cover with a lid or foil for 25 minutes. Then uncover and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly