Eggplant Rollatini with Pancetta and Spinach
Is it possible to be a closet vegetarian…who loves pancetta? I’ve noticed a shift in my eating. The balance on the scales is weighing heavier on the vegetables, and lighter on the meats. Perhaps it is the change in season and the excitement I feel…
Is it possible to be a closet vegetarian…who loves pancetta?
I’ve noticed a shift in my eating. The balance on the scales is weighing heavier on the vegetables, and lighter on the meats. Perhaps it is the change in season and the excitement I feel when I think of all the goodies that will be flooding the farmer’s markets soon. I find myself at the butcher counter with slightly less enthusiasm than usual these days. But don’t get me wrong, I do crave a good steak still. And all manner of charcuterie. That is an undying love, for sure.
But there is definitely a change in my every day cravings – I want more vegetables, I seek more color.
I thought it would be fun to share meals that highlight colorful vegetables in a collection of Satisfying Sunday Dinners Where Vegetables Shine on Foodie:
This Eggplant Rollatini with Pancetta and Spinach was made on a day when nothing at the butcher called my name, when all I wanted was something comforting yet light. Thinly sliced eggplant rolled to hold ricotta cheese peppered with crispy pancetta and freshly wilted spinach, and baked in a bath of marinara sauce — this to me was everything I wanted in a meal. It was cheesy and satisfying, but it didn’t sink to the bottom of my stomach.
Tell me, what are you craving most for dinner these days? Are veggies part of them? I’d love to know!
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Eggplant Rollatini with Pancetta and Spinach
I just love how eggplant creates a perfect vessel for the cheesy filling within. Simple enough for a weeknight, and a nice break from heavy lasagnas.
1 large eggplant
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, finely chopped
10 ounces fresh baby spinach
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shred
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped fine
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Using a microplane or a sharp knife, carefully slice the eggplant in thin slices lengthwise, about 1/4 inch thick.
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and blanche the eggplant until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain completely and set aside. If you wish, you can skip this step, however, it really does help to make the eggplant tender, as well as with any possible bitterness.
In a deep sided sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until brown and crispy, stirring periodically. Add the spinach, and let it cook until wilted, seasoning with a little pepper. Transfer the pancetta and spinach into a medium bowl. Add the ricotta, egg, parmesan cheese, and season with a little more pepper, if desired.
Pour 1 cup of marinara sauce into baking dish. Create the rollatini by spreading about 2 tablespoons of filling on each slice of eggplant, starting at the narrower end, and rolling. Place the rolls seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Continue until the baking dish is filled. Drizzle a little more marinara sauce on top of the eggplant, and sprinkle top with mozzarella cheese. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top of the dish is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven, garnish with parmesan cheese and basil. Serve immediately.
Filling adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' Lasagna Rolls.
Just letting you know that I included this recipe in my Low-Carb Recipe Love on Fridays post today. I hope a lot of my readers will click over here and try it!
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I made them tonight…… although I am a strict vegetarian, but looking for low carb options, so i just left the meat out. They turned out super delicious! I think I may have cut the eggplant a bit too thick, but still tasted really good. I think I got about 9 rollatini’s out of it though, but next time will cut the eggplant a bit thinner. Great dish, thanks!
Eggplant is my favorite veggie. I also tried couple of times to make rollatini, but they didn’t turned out so beautifully as yours. These I’d like to hang in my kitchen printed! I really have to try your recipe as I mouth start to water just looking at it.
Gosh that’s pretty! I love the combination here! (Closet vegetarian who loves meat? Hilarious!)
We have been eating a lot more vegetables as well, as we begin cutting meat down to a couple times a week. Even though this has pancetta, it is heavy on the veg which I like!
What a wonderful recipe! I made this last night and enjoyed the experience of cooking the dish as well as eating it! I think it’s such a great use of eggplant and a really original way to cook it and create a very presentable dish. Thank you!
Lauren, I’m so happy that you enjoyed both cooking and eating the rollatini, it’s fun isn’t it? Thank you for coming back to let me know!
I knew there was a good reason I picked up all those eggplants at the store the other day! ;)
Love this! I’m having a dinner party soon and think this would be a perfect dish :)
I’d like to roll that into my mouth!
Is there anything I can replace the eggplant with?For some reason I am drawing a blank.Eggplant just isn’t our thing!
Hello, Heidi! Thinly sliced zucchini or yellow squash would be great in this, too. You’ll just have smaller rolls :)
My tastes shifted several years ago to the vegetable side of things. Does this mean I have grown up???? Laughing. Actually because of the shift when I do eat meat, I double appreciate it. I am partial to eggplant. Slicing the eggplant would be the challenge, since I don’t have the proper tool. Ricotta cheese makes me feel groovy. I like saying the word. Its a good thing I like the flavor as well as merely saying the word. Laughing. This is a lovely recipe. Thank you.
It looks so delicious!
I love eggplant, what a perfect dish with just the right amount of comfort!
Thank you, Laura! Can you tell I’ve been on an eggplant kick lately? ;)
Liren, I am so with you on a changing palette, though I think mine is mostly due to the changing seasons :) With the coming spring, I have been craving light, colorful foods. This rollatini sounds like it would fit the bill perfectly!
I couldn’t agree with you more, Amy! I am ready to shed the heavy meals and move on with everything colorful!
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That’s totally me, too – especially with warmer weather coming, heavy meat dishes give way to vibrant veggies. You had me at eggplant! I use the chopped pancetta at TJ’s alot – just a sprinkle adds so much flavor, and it’s easy to eliminate for a vegetarian dish.
This looks awesome Liren. I gotta say we do eat vegetarian meals quite a lot. I like my meat to be the proper kind which costs more so I eat it less but when I do I try to make it good… :) And veggies definitely call my name, especially this time of year!
I think I could describe myself the same way — a closet vegetarian who still loves meat. I’m very excited to use great produce in recipes in ways to make the vegetables shine, and I’m definitely going to check out your recipes on Foodie. This eggplant dish looks incredible, and I’d love it for lunch right about now! Pinning.