Eggplant Parmesan—crisp, meaty slices of the nightshade napped in a flavorful tomato sauce and layered with Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses—is my kind of cozy comfort food. But it’s a labor of love, as the breading process requires performing a triple dip on each slice of eggplant: first in flour, then egg, and finally in bread crumbs, not to mention that quite a few pots and pans are dirtied while preparing the various components.
So if I’m short on time or energy (or both) but still craving silky eggplant, melty cheese, and savory tomato sauce, I turn to Andrea Geary’s Eggplant Involtini instead. Involtini is often just eggplant Parmesan in a more complicated form—planks of fried eggplant rolled around milky ricotta filling, topped with lots of sauce, and blanketed in mozzarella—but Andrea reengineered it from top to bottom for a cleaner, less fussy take.
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Keys to Lighter, Easier Eggplant Involtini
Here’s how to make this fresh skillet supper.
DON’T FRY, BAKE
Not only is brushing peeled slices of eggplant with oil and sliding them into the oven to bake easier than dipping each one in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs and frying, but it means that the eggplant’s delicate flavor and meaty texture are not obscured by oil and breading.
USE LESS (BUT MORE FLAVORFUL) FILLING
Swapping the usual ricotta-heavy filling for one that’s boosted with a generous dose of Pecorino Romano means that you can use less cheese without sacrificing flavor.
MOVE THE BREADCRUMBS FROM OUTSIDE TO INSIDE
In most involtini recipes, bread crumbs are used to coat the eggplant, but we put them in the ricotta and Pecorino filling. The crumbs keep the filling creamy by preventing the cheese proteins from linking tightly and tasting grainy.
MAKE IT A ONE-SKILLET MEAL
To decrease the number of pots and pans required, make a simple tomato sauce in a skillet, nestle the eggplant bundles in it, and finish the dish under the broiler.