Once after a detox retreat tour in Brasil, a colleague introduced me to the owner of a cooking school who invited me to conduct a class on health and nutrition. Tucked in a cozy corner a little hideaway cooking school in the middle of merger bustling center of Sao Paulo named Madame Aubergine. Instantly seeing a cute little signpost on arrival at cooking school, the idea, for a cooking class was no brainer, obvious choice, was an aubergine recipe.
These rollups are scrumptious little bites that are perfect as a starter. Much like Cannelloni filled with all the good stuff, this recipe uses Aubergines instead of pasta, making the dish healthier and even more interesting. The slightly smoky flavor that the eggplant can add to the dish.
Then it is filled with fillings that are bursting with flavor– sharp saltiness coming from the capers and olives, a rich, creamy element coming from the feta and parmesan cheese, a hint of anise flavor coming from the fennel, all combined, make an explosion of goodness. Then the slightly sweet but mostly tangy, bright sauce coming from sundried tomatoes and oranges balances the rich flavor coming from the rollups. Finally, the lemongrass aromatic citrus scent adds to the sauce’s tartness, interjecting a minty lemon brightness.
Aubergine is the star of the dish, is commonly used as a vegetable in cooking, and is considered part of a berry family in Botany. Its origins are unclear, but it originated in warm countries, most likely in India, the Mediterranean, and Southeast Asia. Is commonly used in Arabic cuisines and was introduced to Arabic Spain in the 8th century. Since then, its popularity in European cuisine grew. The aubergine is high in fiber and low in fat, ideal for those managing their weight and those with type 2 diabetes.
“Involtini di Melanzane,” Vegetarianiced is Madame Aubergine Cannelloni. Involtini is “small bundles of food” in Italian, usually a roulade with the outer covering being meat or vegetables. “Involtini di Melanzane,” as it is called, is also filled with cheese (usual ricotta) and other vegetables, then placed on a bed of tomato sauce. The dish’s elements are similar, but because of its tubular shape and flavor profile, it will surely remind you of Cannelloni, only healthier and more delightfully gratifying.
This starter is sure to impress your family and friends. It almost makes for a lovely healthy snack for everyone to enjoy. I’ve outlined the recipe below for you to learn how to make these taste bundles of goodness.
Madame Aubergine Cannelloni
- 2 medium eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices
- 1 large bulb of fennel stalk finely chopped
- 1 lemongrass stalk, 2 inches from the base, and chopped into pieces
- 1 small red bell pepper roasted on fire and skinned
- 1/2 cup sundried tomato soaked in olive oil
- 4 black olives, pitted and finely chopped
- 1 tsp capers, chopped
- 100 grams / 4 oz goat feta cheese, crushed or grated
- 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley
- 2 tsp olive oil
- A bit of coconut oil or sesame oil for brushing
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook the fennel and lemongrass for about 1 minute, or until soft.
Reduce the heat and cook until these are golden, for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers, sundried tomatoes, and a quarter cup of orange juice.
Bring to a boil on low heat, let it simmer for five minutes.
Let it cool down for a bit and add the remaining quarter cup of orange juice. Puree this in a blender and pour it into a medium baking dish. Now you have a nice thick sauce.
Brush the sliced eggplants with sesame or coconut oil.
Pan grill these slices on a skillet until golden on both sides, for a total of about 15 minutes. Set aside.
In a bowl, mash both kinds of cheese, and mix with olives, capers, and 1 tbsp of the parsley in a bowl.
Place a tbsp of filling near the edge of each eggplant slice. Roll up the slice from the bigger end up until the smaller end of the slice. You may use a toothpick to hold the little end in place, or lay each piece seam side down in the dish with sauce; looks pretty either way.
Place the cannelloni roll on the baking dish with sauce. Place a tablespoon of sauce on top of each roll and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and parsley.
Bake it in the oven for 10 minutes at 350º F/ 180º C
Vegans can use macadamia cheese or cashew cheese. Please see macadamia cheese recipe in the link above.