This Eggplant involtini recipe is simple to make yet has all the classic Italian flavors.
Just roll eggplant slices around a herby ricotta filling, add the topping and bake until golden. This is vegetarian comfort food at its best.
In our garden, we always have two or three eggplant trees which produce lots of fruit. Eggplants, also known as aubergine, are very popular in Southern Italy. We have many ways to prepare them.
Marinated eggplant is a delicious addition to antipasto but I also just love to dip slices in beaten egg then coat in seasoned breadcrumbs before frying. This recipe is one of my family's favourites.
Table of Contents
What are involtini?
Involtini translates loosely to "small roll or bundle" in Italian. Use meat, chicken, fish or vegetables to wrap the filling. Think thin slices of veal, chicken, beef, pork or fish or grilled zucchini or peppers (capsicum) but in this case it's eggplant. The filling is often cheese, vegetables or cured meats.
This recipe started as Nigella's Eggplant Involtini but has evolved. My version is less oily. Eggplant slices need just a light brush with oil before cooking. The filling is classic Italian - ricotta and parmesan freshened with lots of parsley and basil.
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
All the usual Italian ingredients appear in this recipe. These ingredients are easy to find in the supermarket.
- olive oil - regular and extra virgin is good to use
- ricotta cheese
- parmesan cheese
- tomato passata or pureed canned tomatoes
- mozzarella cheese
Eggplant Involtini can be varied with a some substitutions or additions. Here are some suggestions however I'm sure you can think of more.
- use zucchini instead of eggplant. Layer two, overlapping slices of zucchini. Then fill and roll.
- substitute mozzarella or cream cheese for half of the ricotta
- sprinkle with parmesan or romano cheese instead of mozzarella
- add a teaspoon of dried oregano to the filling instead the fresh herbs
- grate the zest of a lemon into the filling
- add a handful of raisins, currant or pinenuts to the filling
No one wants to be making complicated dishes midweek. This recipe is simple but super tasty. There is just a few simple steps.
- Combine the filling ingredients
- Slice and cook the eggplant in a griddle pan or electric grill
- Place a large tablespoon of filling on each slice of eggplant
- Roll up tightly
- Arrange in baking dish and pour over passata
- Top with mozzarella cheese and bake until golden
Tips for success and FAQ's
Be sure to choose firm eggplants with shiny, taunt skin. These are the freshest. You can grill the slices in advance even the day before, then all you need to do is fill and bake.
Generally I find that eggplant isn't bitter especially if it's young and fresh.
However, if the seeds a large and hard the eggplant could be bitter. In that case, it's a good idea to salt them. To do this , sprinkle the slice with salt and layer into a colander. Leave for 1 hour. Allow the bitter juices to drain away. Wash and dry well before proceeding.
This is an excellent make ahead recipe. Completely prepare the dish up until baking (step 5 in the recipe). Then refrigerate until you want to bake it. Before baking, it's better if you let the involtini come to room temperature but it's not essential. When baking directly from the fridge, allow 5 or 10 minutes extra.
Instead of grilling, brush eggplant slices with oil and bake in the oven until cooked through. Alternatively, shallow fry in hot oil then drain well on paper towel.
Yes, cover well with plastic wrap right after assembly and before baking. Pop into the freezer for up to a month. Defrost in the refrigerator and bake as per the recipe. Allow a few minutes extra if the dish was really cold.
There could not be a more versatile recipe. Served as an appetizer, side or main dish, these Eggplant involtini will be enjoyed by meat eaters and vegetarians alike.
More vegetarian recipes
- Ricotta Pie
- Eggs in Purgatory (Eggs in Tomato Sauce)
- Roasted Zucchini
- Giant Cheese Stuffed Shells
- Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta from It's Not Complicated
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Eggplant Involtini Recipe
- 3 large eggplant approximately 1lb/400g each
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
Sauce and topping
- 2½ cups tomato puree (passata)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 7 ounces fresh mozzarella 200 grams
For the filling
- 1 ⅓ cup fresh ricotta cheese 250 grams
- ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or more as desired
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or more as desired
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground pepper
- Firstly slice the eggplants into about 5mm slices. I get about 7 slices per eggplant. Peel prior to slicing if desired.
- Brush slices with olive oil and grill using electric grill or grill pan. Remove the grilled eggplant slices as they are done setting aside on a plate. Lightly salt the eggplant slices. For other options see notes.
- Place a large tablespoon of prepared filling onto a slice of grilled eggplant. Roll up and arrange into a baking dish. This is obviously a recipe that can easily be adjusted according to how many guests you have.
- Combine tomato passata with extra virgin olive oil and salt
- Pour seasoned tomato passata over the the rolls and sprinkle with chopped mozzarella.
- Bake at 350ºF/180ºC for 20-25 minutes until bubbling and the cheese is melted and golden. By this time your house should smell heavenly.
- Once out, let the dish stand for at least 10 minutes before serving. Beautiful with crusty bread and a salad.
- Combine all ingredients for filling and set aside.
- Zucchini can be use instead of eggplant.
- Bake the eggplant slices instead of grilling by brushing with oil and bake until tender.
- Use mozzarella cheese for part of the ricotta
- Use a teaspoon of dried oregano in the filling
- Add the zest of a lemon in the filling
- Include a handful of raisins, currants or pine nuts
- Sprinkle the finished dish with Parmesan or Romano cheese.
Nutritional Estimate Per Serving
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.
This updated recipe was first published 11 September, 2010.