Did you know that eggplant is a berry?!?! Berry or not, I’m still going to say it’s part of my vegetable intake =) Eggplant is a little tricky sometimes, but when it’s made right, it’s SOOO good. It has this smooth and creamy melt-in-your-mouth quality to it, and it goes really well with the ricotta basil filling. Try to find some high quality ricotta at the store, or even make your own. It’s very simple and is TOTALLY worth the small bit of effort. Here’s how to make this tasty little appetizer:
1 large eggplant
1 cup ricotta cheese
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped basil
salt and pepper
Thinly slice the eggplant (down the length of the eggplant, so you get the longest pieces possible), and rub the pieces with salt. Place the eggplant in a colander and let it drain for one hour. This process is called purging and what we’re doing is letting the salt draw out any juices carrying super bitter flavor.
While the eggplant drains, mix together the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, olive oil, parmigiano, red pepper flakes, and chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper, and taste. Make desired seasoning adjustments.
After the eggplant has been purged, rinse the slices well, then dry with paper towels.
Preheat a grill (or a big cast iron pan) and grill the eggplant about 3 minutes on each side (depending on thickness). Taste a little piece before you remove the eggplant to make sure it’s cooked. Undercooked eggplant really doesn’t taste good.
Place a small spoonful of the cheese mixture at the base of the eggplant, then roll it up. Enjoy!