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Eggplant Rolls with Spicy Tomato Sauce

January 24, 2008

This is one of my favorite ways to eat eggplant in the summer. The simple, fresh and spicy tomato sauce is delicious on top of the smoky grilled eggplant. Adapted from Gourmet, August 2003.

Eggplant Rolls with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
7 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 lb plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 (1 1/4-lb) eggplant
12 1/2 oz ricotta (preferably fresh; 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Special equipment: a well-seasoned ridged grill pan or a gas grill

Directions

Make sauce:
Cook garlic and red pepper flakes in 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly. Stir it occasionally. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Grill eggplant while sauce cooks:
Heat grill pan over high heat until hot, or preheat the outdoor gas grill as appropriate.

Peel a 2-inch wide strip of skin off opposite sides of the eggplants vertically. Cut each eggplant lengthwise into 8 slices. Brush both sides of each slice with 3 tbsp olive oil, then season well with salt and pepper.

Grill the slices in batches, turning over once and brushing grilled sides with some of remaining oil, until golden brown and tender, about 4 minutes, then transfer to a tray.

Assemble eggplant rolls:
Stir together cheeses, 2 tablespoons basil, pepper, and remaining salt in a small bowl. Spread about 3 tbsp of the cheese mixture down the length of each slice, leaving a small border around the edge. Roll up each slice, starting with the short end. Serve the rolls topped with sauce and sprinkled with the remaining basil.

Serves 4.

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