Sunday, 27 February 2011

"Eggplant" Rollatini with Spinach and Tofu Ricotta

This recipe is a variation of one from the justly-famous Veganomicon, which we got for Christmas. (We spent Christmas in Switzerland, and my brother insisted that we carry this heavy book all the way there and back so we could open it on Christmas Day. My belly thanks you, Ed, but my back does not!)

We've been very slowly working through the recipes ever since. This one was quite complex to make, involving marinara sauce, breading mixture, tofu ricotta and a final assembly stage, but cooking together is a nice way of spending a winter's evening.

First, three aubergines were sliced lengthwise at a thickness of about 3 mm. I found the easiest way to do this was to cut them in half, lay one half on a board flat side down, and run a knife along to cut a slice off the bottom. If you press the handle of the knife onto the board and keep it that way as you move it, the blade will be held level at the right height. The slices of aubergine will look far too thick and stiff to roll up. Salt, drain and rinse them, however, and they lose a lot of water and become floppy. I'd never done this because it seemed an overcomplicated and 1970s technique, but I see now that it can have uses.

While one of you is developing aubergine science, the other can make up some tofu ricotta (recipe here) and almesan (a Parmesan substitute made with almonds -- recipe here). Get some marinara sauce on the go as well: it gets better the longer you leave it to cook.

Flour the slices and shallow-fry them to become golden brown. (The book advises coating them in a breadcrumb-and-herb mixture with almesan but we couldn't get it to stay on. Just add extra herbs somewhere else if you want them!)

To make the rollatinis, roll each aubergine slice around a spinach leaf and two tablespoons of ricotta. You can add toasted pine nuts too. Pour half your sauce into the bottom of a deep oven tray, arrange your rollatini on it, sprinkle on almesan and pour over the rest of the sauce.

Bake them for about twenty minutes at 180 °C and serve with more almesan sprinkled over the top. The book suggests serving with steamed broccoli or spaghetti ... but by the time we'd finished making the rollatini, we weren't hungry enough for either of those!

This was delicious and I can't wait to make it for guests. David thought the tofu ricotta was nicer than the real stuff, while I could happily eat almesan on its own with a spoon. We both agreed that having more sauce would have been better as it cooks down quite a lot.