July 30, 2010

Grilled Italian Eggplant Rollatini with Herbed Goat Cheese



Ingredients:
3 Italian eggplants, sliced into 1/4 inch thick vertical strips
1/2 cup softened mild goat cheese
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons minced basil
2 tablespoons minced oregano
zest one lemon
salt
pepper


brushing sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoons minced oregano
1 tablespoons minced basil
salt
freshly grated black pepper

Directions:
Sprinkle sliced eggplants with salt. Allow to seep in a colander 20 minutes then rinse off. Prepare grill according to manufacture's instructions. In a small bowl, whisk together the brushing sauce. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with the mixture. Grill for about 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through or until soft. Meanwhile, mash the cheese, shallot and spices together until smooth. When the eggplant is ready, remove from the grill and allow to cool slightly on a tray until easily handled. Spread each strip with the goat cheese mixture (about 1 tablespoon each). Roll closed. Serve warm or at room temperature.



Notes: It can be tricky to roll the strips with a "bump" (the end pieces). Either slice the bump off before grilling or just spread them with goat cheese and leave them unrolled.

Eggplant can go from grilled to blackened very quickly. If a (normally a slightly too thin) piece is too dark on one side, take care not to over cook the other side. When you go to roll, spread the blackened side with goat cheese so the pretty grilled side is facing out. This will soften the crispier side slightly and no one will notice the difference.

Serves: 6 as an side dish, 4 as an entree


My thoughts:
I love this recipe because it looks impressive but is super easy. Grilled eggplant is awesome because it gets silky smooth without having to fry it or cook for a long time and it isn't bitter at all. Italian eggplants work best because they are a little sweeter and have less seeds but are still big enough to slice into planks but "regular" eggplants would work as well. Japanese eggplants are normally too small to slice and roll like this.

I think this dish could be an appetizer, side dish or if accompanied by a simple salad, an entree.