Eggplant Rollups

From Puglia: A Culinary Memoir (Italy’s Food Culture) (Oronzo Editions, LLC, 2008)

Serves 6

1 onion, minced
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups fresh tomato puree or 2 8 -ounce cans
Basil leaves
3-1/4 pounds eggplant (6 small)
2 eggs
Sea salt
Flour for dredging

6 ounces ground meat, any combination of lamb, veal, and pork
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 slices day-old country bread (remove crusts, soak in water, squeeze dry, and tear into small pieces)
1 egg yolk
2 ounces mozzarella, diced
Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

  1. To make the tomato sauce, in a skillet, fry the onion in olive oil and then pour in the tomato puree and add some basil. Continue cooking until thickened.
  2. Cut the eggplants lengthwise, about 1/4 inch thick. Lightly beat 2 eggs and salt them. Set out a plate of flour. Dredge the eggplant slices first in the beaten egg and then the flour. Fry them in a generous amount of olive oil in a large skillet.
  3. Meanwhile, make the stuffing. Combine the ground meat, the Parmigiano-Reggiano, bread, egg yolk, mozzarella, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Put a small amount of this stuffing on top of each slice of eggplant and roll up the eggplant.
  4. Spread about 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish and place the eggplant rolls in rows in the dish, sides touching, seam-side down. (You shouldn’t need toothpicks to hold them closed.) Pour more sauce over the eggplant and top with some torn basil leaves. Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Serve lukewarm or cold as a main dish or part of a buffet.

Fresh Tomato puree: blanch and peel tomatoes, then purèe them through a food mill.