Don't let the title scare you away! A rollatini is nothing more than a meat or vegetable rolled around a filling. Easy, right? Crisp slices of eggplant wrap around a creamy core of ricotta and spinach filling brightened with lemon. Homemade eggplant rollatini with spinach is a dish that'll wow your guests, especially if they're vegetarian. The perfect main course dish that answers the "what to do with eggplant" question!
When you hear "eggplant", what comes to mind? Cheesy eggplant parmesan? I'm hoping that once you wrap your head around how easy (and good!) it is to make eggplant rollatini, you'll want to rotate between alllll the eggplant recipes we've got around here!
Speaking of wrapping things around other things...
What does "rollatini" mean?
"Rollatini" is the American term for the Italian, involtini. Involtini translated means "rolls."-Josie + Nina
The best eggplant rollatini recipe
To call something the "best," you have to feel pretty confident. When it was made in the J+N test kitchen, this easy eggplant rollatini got a unanimous 5 star rating.
- The eggplant is roasted first, guaranteeing that it doesn't get mushy or soft.
- The flavorful cheese filling has a bonus of fresh baby spinach and a bright spot of lemon.
- The fresh tomato marinara sauce is simply simmered highlighting the flavor of summer tomatoes in the easiest and purest way.
And that, my friend, makes for one amazing eggplant involtini.
How to select an eggplant for rollatini
If it's summer, head to your favorite farmer's market to shop for eggplant. That way you'll get the freshest crop.
Whether there or at the grocery store, look for eggplants with the following features:
- Straight. A straight and less curvy eggplant is easier to slice and roll for eggplant rollatini.
- Slightly heavy. If it's too light, the eggplant might be too young. Too heavy could contain too many seeds.
- Smooth. Pass over any eggplants with blemishes or brown spots. You want one with a shiny smooth skin because that likely a fresher eggplant.
- Dark even color. An evenly colored eggplant promised good flavor with little bitterness. And if there's a bright green stem, that's a good sign too!
What you'll need
There are 3 main components of eggplant rollatini:
Prep the eggplant
- Thinly slice the eggplant lengthwise from top to bottom (trim the ends first). About 6-7 slices per eggplant.
- Drizzle a baking sheet with olive oil and lay on the eggplant slices with some room between them. Brush tops with more oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast for about 10 minutes.
NOTE: we aren't salting the eggplant to draw out the moisture in this recipe as the pre-roasting helps make it crispier. You, of course, can if you prefer!
How to make eggplant rollatini
- Mix the cheese filling ingredients with the chopped spinach until well blended and set aside.
- After the eggplant has cooled a bit, spread about 1 Tablespoon of ricotta filling down the center of a piece of eggplant.
- Roll the eggplant from one short end to the other, placing seam side down in a baking dish with some sauce at the bottom.
- Ladle on sauce down the center of all the rolls, leaving edges exposed.
- Top with cheese and bake.
Other sauce options
Wondering what other sauces work with eggplant rollatini? Give one of these easy and simple pasta sauces a try:
I'd like to add a little meat to the dish. Any suggestions?
Sure...here are 2 ideas:
- Before adding the cheese filling, top each slice of eggplant with a piece of prosciutto. Then top with cheese and roll.
- Another idea is to add some cooked ground Italian sausage or beef to a homemade Italian red sauce.
Can I make eggplant rollatini ahead of time?
You can pre-roast the eggplant and then assemble the rollatini in a baking dish. Don't top with the tomato sauce until right before baking.
Can eggplant rollatini be frozen?
I don't recommend eggplant rollatini be frozen as I can't guarantee that it won't end up watery.
More tips for success
- Firm ricotta filling. To insure that the ricotta filling isn't too wet, be sure to drain any excess water off the top of the cheese container. Also, if using frozen chopped spinach, squeeze it between several layers of paper towel until dry or run it through a salad spinner.
- Uniform Slices: Make your eggplant slices as equally thick as possible for even cooking and so that the eggplant isn't mushy.
- Don't over-stuff. Not going too crazy with the ricotta filling will help the filling not leak out the sides of the rolls.
- Tighten things up. If your rolls are having a hard time staying closed (likely due to overfilling or under-cooking), use a toothpick to seal the roll. Just remember to remove the toothpick before serving.
Storage and Reheating
Storage. Store leftovers in an airtight, resealable container for up to 4 days in the fridge.
Reheating. Heat the oven to 350˚ and reheat until desired temperature is achieved, about 10 minutes or so if coming straight from the fridge.
Made this recipe?
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Baked Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach
- oval or round oven-safe baking dish
For the ricotta filling
If making homemade sauce (you can use jarred sauce instead)
For the eggplant
- Preheat oven to 400˚. Gather two large baking sheets.
- Cut the ends off the eggplant. Thinly slice the eggplant lengthwise from top to bottom. Make sure to have exposed edges of skin (it’s prettier). You should get about 6-7 slices per eggplant, about ⅛-¼" thick.2-3 straight eggplants
- Drizzle some olive oil on each baking sheet. Lay slices of eggplant on the sheets and brush the tops with more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.olive oil
- Place in the oven and roast for 8-10 minutes.
Make the ricotta filling
- Blend the ricotta mixture ingredients together including ½ cup of parmesan, goat cheese, chopped spinach, egg, parsley, seasoning and lemon. Set aside.8 oz container of whole milk ricotta, 3-4 oz goat cheese, ½ cup chopped fresh baby spinach, 1 egg, 1-2 T fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 cup parmesan cheese, ½ lemon
Make the sauce (or use jarred sauce)
- Core the tomatoes.2 lbs fresh tomatoes
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil.
- Core the tomato removing the center core with a small knife or tomato corer (I got mine from Pampered Chef a while ago).
- Gently squeeze the cored tomato to remove the seeds.
- Make an "X" at the cored end of the tomato with a sharp knife and drop the tomato into the pot of boiling water for 30 seconds tops. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Once cool to the touch, peel the tomato from the top down.
- Take your already peeled tomatoes [see above] and roughly dice them into a medium chop.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and once heated, saute the chopped onion. Once the onion is nice and golden (about 3-5 minutes), add the chopped garlic and saute until you can smell it [about 30 seconds or so].1 Tablespoon olive oil, ½ small onion, 1-2 cloves garlic
- Add the diced tomatoes along with the basil, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to simmer the sauce for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.6-8 leaves fresh basil
Assemble the rollatini
- Preheat the oven to 400˚.
- Spread approximately 1 Tablespoon of ricotta filing down the center of a piece of eggplant. From the short end, roll the eggplant from one end to the other. In a 9x13” pan or oval baking dish, ladle a scoop of sauce. Line the rollatini, seam side down, in the sauce until all the eggplant is used.
- Ladle over more sauce and sprinkle with pieces of fresh mozzarella and remaining parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes until the cheese is melted, the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden. Enjoy!¼ lb fresh mozzarella, salt and pepper