- About 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
- 3 pounds medium eggplants, stem end trimmed, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 egg plus 1 yolk, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh marjoram or oregano
- Pinch grated fresh nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups Basic Red Sauce, recipe follows
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano
- 1/3 cup chiffonade fresh basil leaves
Heat 1/3 cup of the oil in a 12-inch skillet until very hot and fry the eggplant slices, 2 or 3 at a time, until soft and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain as you repeat with the remaining slices, adding more oil as necessary. You will likely need 1/3 cup of oil for each batch of eggplant.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, mozzarella, the egg and yolk, scallion, marjoram, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Working with 1 eggplant slice at a time, lay the slice flat, with the trimmed stem end closest to you. Place a heaping tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on the end of the slice, then roll the eggplant up to form a tight roll. Place on a plate while you prepare the remaining slices.
Add the tomato sauce to the bottom of a 10 by 15-inch baking dish, spreading to cover the bottom of the dish evenly. Place the eggplant rolls in the dish, seam side down, and sprinkle with the Parmesan.
Bake, uncovered, until the cheese filling begins to melt and ooze out of the rolls and the tomato sauce is bubbly and hot, and the Parmesan is lightly golden on top, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, garnish with the basil, and serve immediately.
Basic Red Sauce:
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 chopped yellow onion
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 16 ounces whole peeled tomatoes, broken into pieces, and their juices
- 16 ounces tomato sauce
- 4 teaspoons tomato paste
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, salt, basil, oregano, and pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, and sugar and stir well. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until thickened and fragrant, 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from the heat and keep warm until ready to use.
Yield: 3 cups