be a lover not a hater: eggplant involtini

After making one uber-successful dish from my Nigella Lawson’s Feast cookbook, I thought I’d try my hand at something else. Involtini means something wrapped around something else and this recipe wraps eggplant around a flavourful cheese stuffing. Years ago, I had made another Nigella involtini dish with a group of friends, mixing it up with goat cheese, chorizo and pistachios, and oh my, it was good! So when I had a small dinner party coming up, I decided to try my hand at eggplants once again and try the recipe from Feast.

I should point out that I don’t really like eggplant. I never buy it and I steer clear from eggplant dips at parties. It just ain’t my thing. About 15 years ago when I was a vegetarian, I thought I’d try my hand at making a roasted eggplant dish. I ended up throwing it into the garbage. But when we were in Europe this past September, we couch-surfed with a lot of eggplant eaters and hence, we ate a lot of eggplant too. And you know what, it wasn’t awful. So that got me to thinking of that old involtini I had co-baked with a kitchen full of friends many years ago. I decided that I’d try it one more time. Luckily, the recipe turned out fabulously! Even Cornelius who hates eggplant more than me, loved it too. I really think that this dish can turn eggplant haters into dreamy eggplant lovers. It’s just that good.

This recipe isn’t as labour intensive as you might think. The key to my success was taking Nigella’s tip and preparing the eggplant the night before the party. I also decided to make a homemade tomato sauce and made that too before heading to bed. If you want to go an easier route, as Nigella does, use a good bottled tomato sauce instead.

23 comments to “be a lover not a hater: eggplant involtini”

  1. 1
    Jenni   February 3, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    Wow you are an artistic and adventurous cook, I’m impressed! While I love cooking and am learning so much (self taught), I think that my adventurousness is slightly tainted by the fact that I am usually preparing a meal for four small children and do I really want to exert all that energy on something they might not think as delightful as I? Thanks for the inspiration! Great blog!

  2. 2
    Bellini Valli   February 4, 2008 at 4:11 am

    You have converted me into an eggplant lover with this eggplant dish. I love (almost)all things with feta.

  3. 3
    Rachel   February 4, 2008 at 6:17 am

    It looks great! I need to check out that book.

  4. 4
    Bijoux   February 4, 2008 at 8:33 am

    Yum! Eggplant rocks! What can I say – its’ in my genes 😀

    p.s. If you want to be really daring with eggplant try it with chocolate…as prepared by David Rocco from the cooking show “La Dolce Vita”

  5. 5
    Us vs. Food   February 4, 2008 at 9:18 am

    this further nudges me toward really liking eggplant. i was going to make a mixed veggie ragu with eggplant tonight to serve over polenta, but now i think i want this instead. i especially like that the eggplant isn’t bread-crumb coated. (or is that rolatini? or are they the same thing?)

  6. 6
    Cooper   February 4, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Nigella rules…although I have to admit I do not have the Feast book…yet. This looks great and I like eggplant so this will go on the list to try.

  7. 7
    Cookie baker Lynn   February 4, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    I’ve always wanted to like eggplant but haven’t found the right recipe to help me. This one looks like it might do the trick.

  8. 8
    MadCalicoJess   February 4, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    I’m was an eggplant hater, I admit, but there have been a couple of ways I’ve enjoyed it. There used to be a Persian place that would roast it and then whip it smooth and mix it with other tasty things and topp it with perfectly caramelized onions and bake that, heavenly delight that was akin to hummus, but smoother and richer. Also “eggplant caviar”.
    I finally relinquished my hate when a friend roasted some Japanese/Chinese eggplant, so now that’s about the only kind I’ll eat. Apparently the American kind that has been foisted on me and fueled my hate is more bitter.

  9. 9
    Amanda   February 4, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    These look delicious–I love eggplant. I usually call eggplant-rolled-around-cheese ‘rollatini’ instead of involtini… but whatever you call it, I call it good!

  10. 10
    Helene   February 4, 2008 at 10:15 am

    This recipe looks so great. You did a good job.

  11. 11
    the vegan blog tracker   February 4, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    I always forget about eggplant – using it like this sounds pretty good, though!

  12. 12
    Ellen   February 4, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    The only way I’ve disliked eggplant is in caponata (sp?). I love eggplant parmesan, plain fried eggplant, grilled eggplant, Chinese style eggplant with garlic sauce… This might be worth a try. Oh, and Jenni, one of my kids loves egglant parmesan, the other isn’t crazy about it but will eat it. Both will eat plain grilled eggplant though.

  13. 13
    hag   February 4, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    I love any recipe that asks you to ‘smell the stuffing’. This looks really good … again need new ways to make eggplant. I have to get a cast iron grill pan! I love nigella!

  14. 14
    (( Ms. K ))   February 5, 2008 at 5:38 am

    i love egg plant!!

  15. 15
    Brilynn   February 5, 2008 at 6:36 am

    I could love eggplant with a dish like this! It wouldn’t take much convincing at all…

  16. 16
    kickpleat   February 5, 2008 at 11:49 am

    thanks jenni for the kind words on my blog!

    bellini valli, yes, this is the dish to convert all eggplant haters.

    rachel, it’s a pretty great cookbook!

    bijoux, i’m not that daring when it comes to eggplant.

    us vs food, this dish nudged me too!

    thanks helene!

    cooper, it’s a great cookbook and this is a truly yummy dish.

    try it, lynn, you just might like it!

    mad, i think an asian eggplant is next on my “to try” list!

    mrs. w, i’ve had a few votes for “rollatini”, whatever, it’s delicious.

    haha, hag, i had to stick that in there cuz i made cornelius smell it too. it’s that delicious!!

    vegan blog tracker, i’m sure you could sub in some tofu ricotta and call it vegan delicious!

    ellen, looks like i’ve got a lot of eggplant cooking to get through!

    ilovepearly, i’m not there yet, but maybe one day!!

    not much convincing needed at all, brilynn!

  17. 17
    Cakespy   February 7, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    How delightful and creative! As usual you have impressed the masses with your wit and excellent cooking. I love eggplant so this one is clearly for me.

  18. 18
    VeggieGirl   February 9, 2008 at 9:07 am

    I have a love-hate relationship with eggplant – sometimes it tastes great in recipes, sometimes it doesn’t; but if it’s in a Nigella dish, then it MUST be good!! :0D

  19. 19
    eatme_delicious   February 9, 2008 at 10:30 am

    I am definitely an eggplant fearer, so I will have to save this recipe for when I’m feeling brave and ready to open my heart to eggplant! It looks good.

  20. 20
    bellcurves   February 9, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    This looks so good! Since I’m an eggplant fan, I’ll have to try this recipe sometime.

  21. 21
    kickpleat   February 10, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    why, cakespy, my wit and cooking skills thank you muchly 😉

    veggiegirl, this is good! so, so good.

    trust me, eat_me, try this and see. you’ll love it! i’m almost positive.

    bellcurves, this is a definite winner!

  22. 22
    Ashley   March 11, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    ooh! i’m trying to get my husband to like eggplant lately, so this might be the thing to try. so far, he can handle babaganoush but that’s about it.

  23. 23
    Carol   August 20, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    This is a great recipe. We make it a lot and are always being asked for the recipe by people we’ve served it to. In the latest iteration I’ve been using ricotta instead of feta, which is also very good.

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