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« Pasta Fresca | Main | Italian Easter Bread »

Eggplant Rollatini

This makes a delicious vegetarian entree or a filling side dish. You all know how to make risotto now - remember my risotto post? For this recipe, however, instead of making a saffron type risotto, I make it with a little tomato paste and very light beef broth. You can certainly use vegetable broth if you want to keep it a vegetarian dish. This dish is great because you can make it in the morning, or even the day before, refrigerate it and bring it to room temperature before baking.

There is a lot of debate with cooks about whether to salt eggplant or not. Some people claim that salting the eggplant before cooking helps get rid of any bitterness. Salt does help suppress bitterness in foods, this is true, but most people rinse off the salt before cooking. Actually, the main reason to salt eggplant is to help with the amount of oil the eggplant soaks up during cooking. If you have ever cooked eggplant, you know it can absorb an unbelievable amount of oil. That is because eggplant is full of tiny air pockets. It is actually just like a sponge. When you slice eggplant and then salt it before cooking, the salt draws out the moisture and helps collapse the air pockets, so it takes on a lot less oil. It is worth doing.

Eggplant Rolatini

This recipe makes 5 rollatini.


For the Risotto:

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 4 cups light beef broth (or vegetable broth), heated
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan

for the eggplant:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • oilve oil
  • marinara sauce


Heat a little olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the garlic and saute gently for one minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for one minute. Add the rice and cook for about a minute more.

Start adding the warm broth and stir the risotto. Every time the rice absorbs the liquid, add a couple more ladles. Keep stirring for about 25 to 30 minutes. Take the risotto off the heat and add the cheese. Transfer to a bowl and let cool before assembling rollatini.


Slice the very ends off the eggplant. Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. You should have 5 slices for a large eggplant. Salt the slices heavily and place in a colander for about one hour. Rinse the salt off the eggplant and press with paper towels to dry.

Heat a grill or grill pan on the stove. Make sure it's hot before beginning. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on both sides until you have nice grill marks and the eggplant is pliable.

Place a little marinara sauce in the bottom of a small baking dish. Place some risotto all along the eggplant slices and roll up and place seam side down in baking dish. Top with marinara sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes covered. Remove cover and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

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Reader Comments (11)


thanks for helping me to understand the salting issue
makes perfect sense

March 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercook eat FRET

I'd be pushing those eggplant slices all over the grill pan; you showed such restraint and got such pretty brown lines...

March 27, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercookiecrumb

How elegant these look! Regarding the bitterness in eggplant, it was more of an issue in the past. Most eggplants today are far less bitter. But thanks for the great info about oil and eggplants.

March 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTerry B

A simple and elegant dish!Delicious too!

March 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterProud Italian Cook

i'm SOOO making this tonite.

April 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

I have grilled eggplant before and found that grilling deminishes or eradicates the bitterness of the eggpland for some reason. All I know is that I love grilled and I don't love it any other way.I have some left over hashbrowns...think I'll try this with never know! I'm all for using leftovers

December 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjtbass2756.

I just want to say thank you, thank you and thank you again, you are my favorite person to read as you make me feel like I am right there in the kitchen with you. I actually want to get up and go right out to make everything you put on your website; you completely take the fear out of it for me and you sound like you are my friend instead of my teacher.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

From The Italian Dish:

Colleen: You made my day! Thanks!

December 12, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I tried this for a dinner party a couple weeks ago and everyone raved! It was wonderful, the risotto was so simple but so flavorful (used vegetable broth instead of chicken to keep it all veggie friendly). How thick to cut the eggplant was a bit of a guessing game (it's hard to know what 1/4 inch really is when cutting, and also to make your knife do exactly what your eye wants. Also was only able to get a weird shaped eggplant...anyway!) I had couple pieces that were too thick so the skin left on after grilling was a bit tough, and a couple that seemed okay but were too thin after grilling so broke apart. But for the majority I was able to get a good piece that rolled and held the risotto. And just a bit of the marinara sauce was needed, just as shown in the picture. I was so incredibly happy with this and will be trying another recipe from the site tonight!

August 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArps

Made this, it was amazing! Eaten before I could photograph it! I substituted pesto for the stuffing and that was the only difference. Thank you

November 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRohini

I have had this dish at a favourite Italian restaruant on several occasions now and have been trying to find the recipe, so I could try making it myself at home. Discovered yours online today and can't wait to try it. Thank you.

April 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJackie

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