It’s starting to feel a little bit like fall around here and I am loving it.
With the turn of every season, I announce that this season is most certainly my favorite of them all. In November, I love the first few snowfalls. After all, it means my favorite season of winter is on its way. In March, I am thrilled about all of the green and the return of the lawnmower noises. It means my favorite season of spring, complete with showers and flowers, is coming. In May, I feel the first few hot, sunny days and I feel overjoyed because they signify that my favorite season of summer is finally here. So in late August when the leaves start to turn a red-orange-brown and the morning air has that crisp feel to it? You guessed it. I get so excited for my absolute 100% favorite season: fall.
I guess I’m just a Midwest girl at heart because I love all 4 seasons, I crave all 4 seasons, and I need 4 really different seasons. I also need 80 different coats to cope with the constant seasonal changes, but that’s a different, more expensive story.
Fall makes me want comfort food, warm food, soups and stews, and dishes that cook up in my oven and fill my little kitchen with aromas that make my mouth water. So what to do with my last few remaining eggplant and garden-fresh summer tomatoes? How about we sauté up slices of the eggplant, roll them up fancy-style with some ricotta-cheese-spinach mixture, and spoon garden fresh homemade tomato sauce over the top? Yeah, I think that’ll do.
Cheers to the end of summer, my absolute favorite season.
Hello to the beginning of fall, my most favorite season of them all…
until November of course. Wink. Wink.
3 medium eggplant
1 (15oz) container ricotta (light or skim is fine)
1 (16oz) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1C shredded mozzarella cheese + a sprinkle for topping
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4C shredded parmesan + a sprinkle for topping
salt, pepper to taste
2C tomato sauce (homemade or jarred)
Slice eggplant lengthwise into 1/4inch strips. I left the skin on, but you could certainly trim it away if you find it to be unappealing. Lay slices on kitchen towel and sprinkle each slice (both sides) with kosher salt. Allow to sit for about 10-15 minutes, until they release a lot of their excess water. Wash the excess salt off each slice and pat dry with towel.
Heat a no-stick pan (or grill) over medium heat. Add a few splashes of olive oil. Cook each eggplant slice until tender, about 4 minutes per side. Alternatively, you could pan fry these, but I just added a bit of olive oil to the pan to make the dish a bit healthier. Set cooked eggplant aside.
In a bowl, combine ricotta, thawed/drained frozen spinach, mozzarella cheese, egg, garlic, and parmesan. Add a sprinkle of salt (keeping in mind that cheese is salty) and a few cracks of black pepper. Stir to combine.
Preheat oven to 350. Spoon about 1/2C of tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. On a clean surface, lay out cooked eggplant. Place a few tablespoons of ricotta mixture at the bottom end of each slice. Roll eggplant up and place seam-side down into baking dish. Repeat with remaining eggplant.
Top with 1 1/2C leftover sauce. Sprinkle with a light handful of mozzarella and/or parmesan. Place rollatini in the oven uncovered for 30-40 minutes, until sauce is bubbling.
Serve. Enjoy. Yum.