About four months ago, my better half sent me a link to a recipe for “Jamie Oliver’s Eggplant Parmesan.” It took me to an adaptation of the British chef’s version of the dish by Marian Burros, who substituted roasting for Oliver’s grilling of the eggplant. When I make this dish again, I will probably opt for grilling, since the roasting method required a lot of coaxing to render the eggplant slices “golden brown.” After 10 minutes in the oven, the slices had only the slightest shade of brown; even after an additional 5 minutes, I had to resort to broiling to give them some color. Eventually, however, after almost 30 minutes of roasting, the eggplant acquired sufficient color for me to consider them done.
Perhaps the only way I can justify subscribing to so many cooking magazines is to occasionally cook from them. After some pretty hearty meals over the past few days, I decided to look for a vegetable entree for supper.
My search took me to the recent issue of “Cook’s Illustrated” (July-August 2014), which has a wonderful recipe for Eggplant Involtini. What especially attracted me to it first was that the eggplant is baked rather than fried; next, the filling uses considerably less ricotta than many others and is, almost counter-intuitively, kept creamy with the addition of fresh white breadcrumbs; finally the tomato sauce is simple, quick cooking, and fresh tasting.
Another thing I liked about this recipe was that it skipped the traditional sweating of the eggplant with loads of salt to reduce the its bitterness. In fact, the article that includes the recipe explains why this salting process may no longer be necessary given today’s selective cultivating methods.
Rather than providing an edited recipe, I’m providing a link to the magazine’s website, which has a video on how to prepare this dish: Eggplant Involtini Video. The magazine says that the recipe will be online for the next four months. If you’re like me and want a hard copy, I’d say the recipe is well worth the $6.95 cover price of the magazine.
I realize that southern Italian cooking may have fallen out of fashion, but give this recipe a try to see how good it can be when it’s well prepared.
We enjoyed this dish with a wine from one of Chianti’s smallest sub-zones, Montespertoli. The producer is Sonnino, who still uses some white grapes in the blend and does not age the wine in wood. The wine is aromatic with good acidity and rich black fruit flavors.
Wine Pairing: Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Alsatian Riesling