This vegetarian, gluten-free twist on traditional cannelloni uses grilled eggplant slices in place of pasta for a hearty vegetable-based meal. Classic cannelloni are stuffed with meat, but the eggplant and cheese mixture in this recipe make it a bit lighter and perfect for late-summer suppers. Many of the ingredients can be harvested straight from your own garden or bought fresh at a local farmers market.
It has incredible flavor and eggplant is a good source of fiber, potassium and Vitamin B-6.
Working with eggplant slices can be a little tricky, so make sure not to slice them too thin, and remember to handle them carefully. It is also important not to overcook them; grilling for three minutes on each side is plenty.
This recipe doesn’t take long to prepare, but the flavors will make your guests think you spent all day in the kitchen making this special dish.
Serve warm with a fresh salad and enjoy!
Everybody knows cannelloni as a delicious pasta dish, but I like to make a lighter, vegetarian version using eggplant slices instead of pasta sheets.
- 2 eggplants 1 sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices, the other diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh ricotta
- 3 large basil leaves
- 1/2 cup hard mozzarella cheese, cubed
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano freshly grated
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- Salt to taste
- 3 cups tomato sauce or your favorite jarred marinara sauce
- 2 tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano freshly grated - for topping
Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch sauté pan, add the cubed eggplant, and fry until golden brown.
Set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.
Preheat a stovetop grill.
Place the sliced eggplant on a clean surface and sprinkle generously with salt.
Marinate for 5 minutes, then pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Brush each with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil.
Place the eggplant on to the grill and cook for 3 minutes on each side, or until you get nice grill marks. Set aside and let them cool.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
In a food processor, combine the diced eggplant, ricotta, basil, Parmigiano, pepper, and nutmeg. Blend until smooth.
Lay the grilled eggplant slices flat and spread about 1 tablespoon of the mixture evenly on each.
Add 1 cube of mozzarella cheese and roll the eggplant from bottom to top, ensuring the mixture stays in the middle of the roll. In a large baking dish, add 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce and place the rolls side by side in the dish.
Top the rolls with the rest of the tomato sauce, sprinkle with Parmigiano, and bake for 25 minutes.