Borrowing from a New York Times recipe, this version is thinnly sliced eggplant wrapped around feta, raisins, and nuts. Strange combination you may think? Not really, very traditionally Sicilian, and trust me, those Sicilians know a thing or two about how to make great food!
Not surprisingly, my version diverts from the original recipe, mainly because I got distracted and forgot to add the lemon zest and dried mint. They were spectacular without those extra ingredients but next time they will be in there.
Yes, it takes a bit more time than a 30 minute meal; closer to 90 minutes. But it is so worth the effort. For myself, my time spent preparing food is my alone time, my daily meditation. But if that time commitment is daunting, you can make part of it ahead of time; fry the eggplant and refrigerate it, bringing it to room temperature before stuffing and rolling it.
Since we are in full blown tomato season, just go with a very simple topping of chopped fresh tomatoes. Do drain off the extra tomato juice (or slurp it when no one is watching, cook's perogative!)
Eggplant Involtini with Feta and Raisins (adapted from The New York Times)
1 large eggplant, ends trimmed, sliced in 1/4 inch slices, lengthwise
8 oz feta cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tablespoons raisins, soaked in boiling water for at least 10 minutes until plump
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Italian (flat leaf) parsley, minced
2 tablespoons pine nuts (I used pepitas and they were great) roughly chopped
2 cups fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup mozzarella shredded
Preheat oven to 375. Heat a skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add enough oil to coat the bottom generously. Fry slices of eggplant until they are soft and floppy, trying not to brown them. Set aside to drain on paper towels or newspaper. Keep adding oil with each new batch of eggplant to ensure the eggplant cooks through quickly.
In a bowl, combine feta, bread crumbs, raisins, garlic, parsley and nuts and mix well to combine. Add the egg and mix again; taste for salt and pepper.
Using a baking dish that will fit the involtini snugly, place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of an eggplant slice and roll it, placing seam side down in the dish. Do not worry too much about whether the seam "seals", the weight of the tomatoes and cheese will keep the roll together. Finish filling all the eggplant slices and cover with chopped tomatoes and then cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is bubbling and a knife inserted in the middle feels hot to the touch. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and serve.