Rolled Eggplant Involtini Pasta
Rolled eggplant involtini pasta is a classic Sicilian dish. Delicate eggplant slices are filled with spaghetti and tomato sauce and topped with melted cheese. The exposed spaghetti gets crispy in the oven while the inside stays moist with melted cheese. This recipe is tasty, vegetarian and also fun to make.
Vincenzo’s Top Tips
Salting the Eggplants
For this recipe (and many other eggplant recipes) you should prepare the eggplants ahead of time by slicing and sprinkling salt over them and then letting them sit for 20 minutes. A liquid will then form and drip off the eggplants which helps remove any bitterness. The slices can then be pat dry using some kitchen paper and they will be ready to grill. I don’t think this step is necessary if you have good quality eggplants so I put mine right on the grill and salt as they cook.
Fried or Grilled?
Traditionally, this rolled eggplant involtini pasta recipe calls for fried eggplant, but I like them better grilled. I don’t necessarily grill them because it’s healthier, I simply prefer grilled eggplant. However, if you prefer your eggplant fried, feel free to fry it. It will definitely have an even more intense flavor, just dont fry them for too long or they soften too much and then be difficult to roll.
Don’t burn the garlic!
Only cook the garlic for half a minute. You don’t want to burn it because your sauce will then have a bitter flavor. Keep stirring the garlic, and don’t leave the skillet alone. If you need to, turn down the heat.
Adding Basil to your sauce
Add the basil when the sauce is mostly finished so that you don’t cook it. The basil should just be added to flavor the sauce. If we cook the basil, we will lose all of its incredible aromas.
Getting the quantity of spaghetti right
Make sure to place the right amount of spaghetti on top of the eggplant slice. Judge the amount according to the size. You want the eggplant to be able to roll over the spaghetti and meet end-to-end. Test your eggplant slice before moving on if you aren’t sure and add or remove as you need to.
How to line up the rolled eggplant involtini pasta on your tray
Place your rolled eggplant slices on the tray so that they are touching each other. This will help them stay rolled up tightly while they finish cooking in the oven.
Always finish them off in the oven
Even though all our ingredients are already cooked, we finish this recipe in the oven so that the cheese melts, the ends of the pasta become crispy and the sauce thickens up. Delicious!
If you want to be 100% traditional, this rolled eggplant involtini pasta recipe is made with ricotta salata. If you’re able to source this, please use it as it adds a different flavour element to the dish. While keeping it classic is what I always aim for, it’s important to know you can still achieve a delicious recipe using an alternate ingredient. I opted for pecorino and mozzarella for the closest possible result and the taste is still incredible.
How to plate Rolled Eggplant Involtini Pasta
To serve your rolled eggplant involtini, carefully slide a spatula under each portion and remove it from the baking sheet. Place 1-3 on each plate (but if you are like me, you may just want to eat them all by yourself!) and serve with some extra sauce.
My favourite part of this dish is that the exposed spaghetti is crispy, while the inside is moist and filled with scrumptious melted cheese. This is a simple dish and a unique way to enjoy pasta – perfect for an antipasto or main. Put a few basil leaves on top of your eggplant rolls for a beautiful garnish with divine aroma. The contrast between the crunchy and soft pasta is delightful.
Once you try one, you won’t be able to stop eating them!
Rolled Eggplant Involtini Pasta
- 1 Grill You can also use an electric skillet or hot plate. Best if it has ridges.
- 1 Baking Tray Lined with baking paper
- 1 Potato masher
- 1 Skillet Large
- 1 bowl Medium
- 1 Plate
- 1 Garlic press If you dont have one, you can finely chop the garlic
- 1 pot Large
- 1 Spatula
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 Serving plate Or several if plating individually
- 1 Eggplant A large one is best. Slice lengthwise so you can wrap around a bundle of spaghetti
- 250 grams Spaghetti Or 9oz/½ a box
- 1 tin Peeled tomatoes Typically 400g
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 handful Pecorino Romano Cheese The original recipe uses salted ricotta, but pecorino romano is easier to find.
- 1 bunch Basil
- 5 balls bocconcini cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil EVOO
- Preheat your oven to 180C/356F.
- Prepare a tray with baking paper.
- Heat up your grill or hot plate over medium-high heat and add the eggplant slices.
- Sprinkle salt on the eggplant while it cooks OR salt the raw eggplant 20 minutes before cooking your dish and let the liquid form and fall from each strip. You can then pat them dry and they are ready to grill.
- Cook the eggplant until there are defined grill marks on both sides and the eggplant has softened.
- Once the eggplant is done set them aside on a plate.
- Place the peeled tomatoes in a bowl and squish with a potato masher until smooth. You can also use your hands to breakdown any big pieces.
- Put a large pot of water on your stove and bring it to a boil.
- To make the sauce, place 4 tbsp EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat and crush two cloves of garlic then add them in.
- Only cook the garlic for 30 seconds or less and after around 25 seconds, add the peeled tomatoes into the skillet, and stir to combine before adding some salt and pepper.
- Gently cook the sauce mixture on medium heat, stirring occasionally and in the meantime add 1 tbsp rock salt to the pot of boiling water.
- Add the spaghetti and cook according to package instructions. Make sure it is al dente since it will also cook in the oven.
- When there are only a few minutes left for your pasta to be done, tear up the basil leaves and add them to your tomato sauce.
- When the pasta is finished, take a mug and fill it with pasta water, then strain your pasta, add it to the sauce and quickly mix to combine.
- Add in a little splash of pasta water from the reserved mug then toss your pasta in the sauce to combine and remove from the heat.
- Place one eggplant slice onto a plate and carefully place a small bundle of spaghetti in the middle then tear little pieces of bocconcini cheese and add them on top.
- Carefully roll up the eggplant, starting from the smaller side. Make sure that your roll is tight and no filling spills out. The spaghetti should be slightly sticking out either end of the eggplant once rolled.
- Next, place the eggplant roll in the parchment paper-lined baking tray, seam-side down so that it stays rolled.
- Take a spoonful of tomato sauce and add it to the rolled eggplant, gently spreading it over the top.
- Sprinkle some pecorino romano cheese on top of the eggplant - you can even add some extra pieces of bocconcini on top and these will then melt in the oven.
- Repeat steps 20-25 for the remaining eggplant slices until all are used then place the finished eggplant rolls in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Take the eggplant rolls out of the oven. Time to enjoy!
What to serve with your Rolled Eggplant Involtini Pasta
As a delicious side or starter, you can serve my crisp and golden Garlic Bread
You might want to serve a main with protein to follow if you don’t want a complete vegetarian meal. I would suggest putting this Veal Saltimbocca recipe on the menu. It’s light, very quick to prepare and will be a delicious meal to follow your Eggplant Involtini.
More Eggplant Recipes
If you love fried eggplant, you will adore this classic. I made this video recipe with my Mum because she makes this recipe the absolute best in my opinion!
For a complete twist on Eggplant Parmigiana, you could also try my families non-traditional version which is layered with seafood! This recipe is unique and divine all at the same time! Try it and let me know what you think.
If you want to really enhance the flavours of eggplant, try my wife’s family recipe – and her personal favourite. Eggplant smothered in slowly cooked tomato sauce which is then mixed with spaghetti and topped with pecorino cheese and breadcrumbs. You really can’t go past this..
Experience the real Italy
Join my private exclusive Italian Tours “Italy Unexplored Tour” and experience the Real Italy like you have never seen before.
The tour is exclusive to only 10 passionate foodies and it’s very unique. (Click here to get more details)
Tempted? Watch the video below and enjoy the sightseeing of the greenest region in Europe
Subscribe to my Youtube Channel: www.youtube.com/vincenzosplate