Eggplant Rollatini with Pancetta and Spinach
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.