Eggplant Rollatini, Lightened Up

I'm an Italian girl at heart. Only half by birth, but 100 percent when it comes to food. Take eggplant rollatini for example–a classic, baked Italian dish that boasts eggplant slices stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella cheese and then rolled up and smothered with tomato sauce and more cheese. Sometimes the eggplant slices are breaded and fried first (think rolled eggplant Parmesan). As you can imagine, it's not the lightest dish on the menu. In fact, one serving can deliver up to 600 calories, 38 grams of fat and 900 mg of sodium. Ouch. But, there's hope!

To revamp the classic dish and make it lighter, I grilled the eggplant slices, which gives them great flavor without breading. Then, I swapped in part-skim ricotta and mozzarella cheese for their whole-milk counterparts, and I used egg whites instead of whole eggs. I also added oregano, thyme, onion and garlic to ramp up flavor. Let me know what you think!

Eggplant Rollatini
Cooking spray

2 whole eggplants (about 2 pounds total), peeled and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices (each eggplant should yield about 12 slices)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups prepared marinara sauce (use your favorite)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Coat a stove-top grill pan or griddle with cooking spray and preheat to medium. Season both sides of the eggplant slices with salt and pepper and add the slices to the hot pan. Grill 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown and tender (if necessary, work in batches to prevent crowding the pan).

3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, parmesan cheese, egg whites, oregano, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and

1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Mix well.

4. Arrange the eggplant slices on a flat surface. Top each slice with about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture and spread the mixture out from end to end. Starting from the shorter end, roll up the eggplant slices.

5. Pour 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a shallow baking dish. Arrange the eggplant rolls, seam side down, on top of the sauce. Pour the remaining sauce over the eggplant rolls and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.

6. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese melts.

Serves 6
Nutrition Info Per Serving
Calories: 283
Total Fat: 13 grams
Saturated Fat: 7 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 26 grams
Sugars: 12 grams
Protein: 18 grams
Sodium: 734 milligrams
Cholesterol: 37 milligrams
Fiber: 8 grams

Robin Miller is host of Quick Fix Meals, a nutritionist and author of 10 cookbooks, including “Robin Takes 5” and “Robin Takes 5 for Busy Families.” She is the busy mom of two active boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinmillercooks.com.

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