Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eggplant Rollups

Among other items you can throw on the grill this summer, really, nothing is tastier than a thinly sliced grilled eggplant. And though many of us New Yorkers don't have this strange contraption known as a grill, this dish can easily be made in the oven and served as a delish Italian appetizer at your next summer fete. It's a healthier, less messy answer to the eggplant rollatini that you might find as antipaste at a catered event. Sure, I have a weakness for cheese, but that doesn't mean that I should overdo it with a ton of ricotta and mozzarella! Because you'll be using a few simple ingredients for this recipe, make sure you buy the freshest that you can find.

The Whats:

* 10 thin slices of eggplant (one large eggplant will suffice)
* 5 cherry tomatoes, halved
* 10 large basil leaves
* 8 oz mozzarella bufala, divided into 10 small chunks
* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 1/2 tsp. each salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried parsley

The Hows:

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees, or preheat grill burner to moderately high heat for ten minutes, then reduce to moderate heat.

2) In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and spices. Generously brush olive oil onto both sides of the eggplant. On a lightly oiled grill rack, grill eggplants until tender, about 15 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking. Transfer to a large platter. You can also bake the eggplant on a large baking sheet for 5 to 8 minutes on each side.

3) On one end of each eggplant slice, place a basil leaf; on top of the basil leaf, place half a cherry tomato and a ball of the mozzarella bufala. Roll up the eggplant slice and secure with a toothpick, with the seam of the roll facing down. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices, basil, tomatoes, and cheese.

4) Place a sheet of foil over the grill, and arrange eggplant rollups over the foil. With the grill cover closed, cook eggplant rolls for another 5 minutes, or until cheese has melted; similarly, bake eggplant rolls on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from grill, and serve hot.

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