I remember when I was a kid, the thought of eating eggplant grossed me out. Man, was I DUMB. I can assure you that, once I was older and on my own, doing my own cooking and experimenting with flavors, things changed dramatically on this front.
Like stuffed mushrooms, there is almost nothing you can’t do with eggplant. However, I am starting off with this particular recipe because I made this just this past weekend for an event at my house. People simply could not get enough of these.
3 medium-large eggplants
1 medium Vidalia onion, minced
1 cup flavored breadcrumbs
8 oz prosciutto, sliced thin, cut in to very thin strips
3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
6 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz thick-shredded Mozarella cheese
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1 tsp fresh chopped sage
1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 tsp crushed red pepper
6-8 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp coarse salt
Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper
Several fresh parsley leaves (for garnishing)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Do not peel the eggplant! Cut it lengthwise into 1/4″ slices. Salt with the 3 tbsp coarse ground salt and place it in a colander to drain for about 30 minutes. Then, wash them well with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
To prepare the pine nuts, prepare them by chopping coarsely. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper. Place on a baking sheet and toast for about 5-7 minutes at 350 degrees.
Add 3 tbsp of olive oil to a large skilled and sauté the onions for about 10 minutes (until wilted). Add the breadcrumbs and stir continuously until they are browned. This will take about another 10 minutes.
Place the mixture in a large bowl with the toasted, chopped pine nuts, the proscuitto, herbs, garlic, crushed red pepper, Parmesan and Mozarella cheeses. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Brush both sides of the eggplant with the remaining olive oil and place them on a oiled baking sheet. Bake on the top shelf of an oven until lightly golden on both sides for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove them from the oven and pile them on top of each other to steam for about 5 minutes. This will make them easy to roll.
Divide the filling evenly among the eggplant slices. Place the filling on the wide end of the eggplant and roll them up. Place them on an oiled baking sheet. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Bake the rolled eggplant appetizers for about 10 to 15 minutes until golden. Remove them from the oven and place them on a serving platter. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves. These are delicious right out of the oven, or after they have cooled for about ten minutes.
Cook’s Note: These can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated. When you’re ready to bake the final product, remove them from the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature before placing them on an oiled baking sheet.