Eggplant rolls, Molto Siciliano.

Same Same but Different is a wonderful Balinese-English expression that was devised many years ago by a streetwise Balinese salesperson. It spread quickly among the shopkeepers and Mr T still wears his 10 year old Same Same But Different T shirt which always cracks me up. Same same on the front, But Different on the back. I love this expression: it captures the humour and inventiveness of the Balinese people and their ingenuity at devising new ways to lure a few dollars from the mindless tourist.

I often think about this crazy expression when imagining ways to use eggplants. Our usual standby dish is eggplant parmigiana, that well loved classic with an interesting culinary history. ¹ Involtini di Melanzane, or eggplant rolls, require very similar ingredients to the former classic, and yet the dish seems much lighter and more interesting. Same same but different.

The following recipe is by Karen Martini. The quick process of flouring and egging the eggplant slices before frying prevents them from absorbing too much olive oil, resulting in a much lighter dish. The original recipe uses a simple tomato passata for the sauce. I found this too bland. A more flavoursome dish results from making a garlic and oregano laced tomato ragù, but if you are in a hurry, go for the bottled passata.

Melanzane Involtini. – eggplant rolls ( serves 4 as a main, 6 as a starter)

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 large eggplants
  • 75g plain flour
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 250g ricotta
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons currants, soaked in red-wine vinegar for 5 minutes, then drained
  • 40g grated parmesan
  • 200g mozzarella, cut into 1cm thick sticks ( or grated)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 500ml tomato passata ( 2 cups) ( see notes above)
  • 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons chunky fresh breadcrumbs

In a small bowl, lightly beat 2 large eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. Peel the eggplants to create a striped effect, then cut lengthways into 1 cm thick slices. Dust the eggplant slices with flour, then dip into egg wash. Heat olive oil in a large heavy  based frying pan over high heat. Cook eggplant slices for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden. Drain well on kitchen paper.

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta with remaining egg. Season with salt and pepper. add the drained currants and half the parmesan and stir to combine. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of this mixture onto each eggplant slice. Add a little mozzarella and roll up tightly.

Preheat oven to 170ºC. Brush the base of a large ovenproof dish with 1 tablespoon of EV olive oil. Spread half the tomato passata or ragù in base of dish. Place the eggplant rolls on the sauce, seam side down, so they don’t unroll. Drizzle with remaining oil, spoon over the remaining sauce and sprinkle with parmesan.

Combine the chopped parsley, pine nuts and breadcrumbs in  a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for a further 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. and top golden.

Mmmm, Molto Siciliana

¹ A History of Eggplant parmigiana 

² Recipe from Karen Martini, Where the Heart is, Lantern, 2006. 

14 thoughts on “Eggplant rolls, Molto Siciliano.”

  1. *laughter* I love eggplant! I love most work Karen Martini have seen. I love most of the food and wine from Sicily and Sardinia I have experienced . . . never did have the common sense to travel further south than Naples . . . ipso facto – this offering will be copied soonest . . . ho hum: being a typical Gemini I wonder whether Mr Google would point to a T-shirt with ‘same, same’ on the front and ‘different’ on the back . . . So very me . . .

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Uno – cannot wait to try the recipe ! Due: you wicked, wicked woman ! I opened a Pandora’s box it will take me days of ‘spare time’ to look at !! There are a trillion possibilities, many of them from Germany for some odd reason . . . . and then come the other sayings, some very, very witty . . . !!!

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  2. One of the expressions which has stuck with me and my daughter is “it’s different, it’s unusual, I like it”! And I like the look of that way of cooking eggplant – plus anything with ricotta hits my “like” button.

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  3. Mmmmm… I have 2 measly eggplants remaining in the garden… rolling slices is out of the question but I note your tip about flouring and egging. Currants… what a great way of adding hits of flavour. I haven’t noticed them for a while at the supermarket but will look… makes me think of the very moreish currant damper my Dad used to make.

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  4. Sounds great. Want to make it but not sure how many slices of eggplant or how wide to cut them. Can’t quite follow that part. They would need to be quite wide if you are going to roll them up, n’est-ce pas?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You cut them vertically. I’ll check my recipe again. Cut them about 1 cm thick or a little thicker. If too thin, they’ll fall apart when rolling. For two people for a large meal, halve the recipe.

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  5. I love involtini! Though I have to say I cheat with both this and parmigiana by ‘frying’ the eggplant in a sandwich press – it’s really quick as it does both sides at once 🙂
    I also rather like Nigella’s anglicised involtini with lancashire cheese 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The history you linked to is very interesting and looks scholarly. I associate eggplant parm with retro Italian restaurants that were very common in the US a couple of generations ago — checkered tablecloths, different kinds of spaghetti and meatballs, salad with iceberg lettuce, wine in straw-wrapped bottles, and spumoni ice cream (just to name a few of the high points!)

    Your recipe would taste a lot better.

    be well…. mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember those retro restaurants too. The Chianti bottles and checked tablecloths of the 60s and 70s, popular in Melbourne, back then. Eggplant Parmigiana has survived that era of stereotypical Italian food, to become one of the main Southern Italian vegetarian classics. I make it often. But I do like this variation, with it’s fluffy light stuffing. Cheers, and take care Mae during these disturbing times.

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