Eggplant and Zucchini Involtini
Eggplant and Zucchini Involtini is a good choice for a wintry day, according to Chef Mary Beth Clark, author of “The Best of Casual Italian Cooking.”
This is a great way to serve classic Italian vegetables as a warm antipasto, wrapped around a savory filling of bread, ham, pine nuts, currants and cheese then covered with light tomato sauce and luscious melted cheese. Typical of Greek and Turkish influences on Italian cuisine, these involtini are so versatile and make a huge hit when served as a light lunch, as a first course or included in the dinner buffet. Next time you’re invited to a family-style gathering and asked to bring a “covered casserole”, arrive bearing gifts, these delectable involtini, and you’ll be invited back!
To learn how to make this dish — among many other traditional Italian recipes — check out our Italy cooking vacations.
* 1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 8 slices (1/4″ thick each slice)
* 1 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 8 slices (1/8 ” thick each slice)
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 2/3 cup dried bread crumbs
* 5 tablespoons chopped baked ham (2 ounces), plain or lightly-smoked
* 5 tablespoons pine nuts
* 3 tablespoons currants
* 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
* 2 ounces provolone, drained mozzarella or caciotta cheese, chopped
* 1 large egg white, lightly beaten, for binding the filling
* 1/2 cup Quick Tomato Sauce (see recipe below, click here)
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
* 1 1/2 cups Quick Tomato Sauce (see recipe)
* 4 ounces provolone, drained mozzarella or caciotta cheese, cut into 8 slices
* Non-metallic baking pan/casserole brushed with oil to prevent burning
* Foil or glass lid to prevent drying out during baking
1. Preheat the broiler. Prepare the eggplant and zucchini slices: Lightly brush both sides of each eggplant slice with a little extra-virgin olive oil then lay flat on a broiler rack. Repeat with the zucchini slices. The oil prevents the slices from drying out or burning during cooking. (Do not salt the slices or juices are released and they will dry out during broiling and baking.)
2. Cook the eggplant slices about 4-5 minutes on one side, turn over and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until each slice is tender with a light golden hue. Remove from the broiler, transfer to a plate and cool.
3. Cook the zucchini slices about 3-4 minutes on one side, turn over and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until each slice is tender with a light golden hue. Remove from the broiler, transfer to a plate and cool. (At this point, the slices may be cooled, covered and reserved for a few hours before shaping.)
4. Ripieno/Filling: Combine the bread crumbs, ham, pine nuts, currants, parsley and cheese, then toss with the beaten egg white. Add the Quick Tomato Sauce, toss, season to taste.
5. Preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C. Shaping the Involtini: Lay flat one broiled eggplant slice, then place a broiled zucchini slice on top of it. Using your fingertips, gently shape 2-3 tablespoons of the filling into a log, place in the center and wrap the zucchini and eggplant slices around the filling, overlapping the ends. Place end-side down in the baking pan/casserole. Cover the pan with foil or a glass lid. (At this point, the involtini can be placed in the refrigerator for a few hours and baked later. Remove 30 minutes before baking.) Place in the center of the oven. Reduce the heat to 350 F/180 C and bake covered for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
6. Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the cover and spoon 1 1/2 cups Quick Tomato Sauce over, then cover again. Bake for another 15-20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, remove the cover and place one slice of cheese on top of each involtino. Leave uncovered, and bake for 6-8 minutes or until the cheese melts. Remove the pan from the oven, let the involtini cool for about 2 minutes for easier serving, then use a broad spatula to lift-out each one, plate, present and enjoy.