I have written about Coach Farms goat ricotta in other posts, it’s great in lasagna and for making gnocchi. I love it in this recipe as well. It’s more flavorful, creamier and less chalky than other ricottas, and it is lower in fat and calories than even part-skim ricotta. I find it at Whole Foods and PCC in Seattle.
If you aren’t a big lover of eggplant, or don’t think you like eggplant, I encourge you to try this recipe anyway. There are two reasons that people generally don’t like eggplant: the texture and the bitter flavor. This texture of the eggplant in this dish is melt-in-your mouth, and the bitterness is extracted from the eggplant with salt prior to cooking. I recommend salting eggplant to extract the bitter liquid prior to using eggplant in any preparation. I salt eggplant slices prior to making eggplant parmesan, and I salt it is cube form prior to making ratatuille. The only time that I don’t use the pre-salting technique is if I’m using a small Japanese or Chinese eggplant. These varieties don’t seem to have the same bitterness as the larger varieties.
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 package frozen spinach placed in a tea towel and squeezed to remove all liquid*
- 2 cloves garlic pressed or minced
- 1/2 lemon zested and juiced
- 4 leaves fresh basil torn (plus more for garnish)
- 1/2 cup grated mozerella or parmesan or combination of the two
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Thinly slice eggplant lengthwise on a mandoline into 1/4 inch slices, (reserve non-uniform end pieces for another use).
- Place eggplant slices on paper towel sheets and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow salt to draw moisture from eggplant slices .
- Combine ricotta, spinach, lemon juice and zest, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix thoroughly to combine and set aside.
- Pour 1 cup of marinara sauce into an 8x8 baking dish.
- Place eggplant slices on parchment-lined baking sheet and cook for 5-8 minutes on top rack of oven until eggplant has softened (you will need to do this in two batches). Allow cooked eggplant to cool before assembling rollatini.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Assemble rollatini by placing a few tablespoons of the ricotta mixture on each eggplant slice and rolling the eggplant around the filling. Place rollatini seam side down in baking dish.
- Top rollatini with remaining marinara sauce, torn basil, and cheese (if using).
- Cover baking dish tightly with foil and cook at 350 degrees for ~50 minutes on the center oven rack. If using cheese, uncover for last 10 minutes of cooking to allow cheese to brown.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.