SP wanted to make something homey and delicious one cold winter day, so he bought a bunch of eggplants and set about making eggplant rollatini.
He used some of the fresh tomatoes my mom and I canned last summer in the sauce and it was phenomenal. You could really taste summer in every bite.
3 cups whole-milk ricotta
2 medium eggplants
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup olive oil
all purpose flour
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4" sticks
8 fresh basil leaves
Preheat 375 F.
Trim the stems and ends from the eggplants. Remove strips of peel about 1" wide from the eggplants, leaving about 1/2 the peel intact. Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4" slices and place them in a colander. Sprinkle generously with coarse salt, tossing to expose all slices, and let drain 1 hour. Rinse eggplant under cool running water, drain thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.
Pour olive and vegetable oils into a medium skillet over med-high heat. While the oil is heating, whisk 2 of the eggs and 1 teaspoon coarse salt together in a wide, shallow bowl. Spread flour in an even layer in a separate wide, shallow bowl. Dredge eggplant slices in flour, shaking the excess off. Dip the floured eggplant into the egg mixture, turning well to coat both sides evenly.
Add as many of the coated eggplant slices as fit without touching and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides.
Stir the ricotta, 1/2 cup grated cheese, and parsley together in a mixing bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Beat remaining egg in a separate bowl and stir into ricotta mixture. Pour 1 cup tomato sauce over the bottom of a 10 X 15 baking dish.
Lay one of the fried eggplant slices in front of you with the short end toward you. Spoon about 2 tablespoons ricotta filling over the narrow end of the slice and top it with a mozzarella stick and a basil leaf. Roll into a compact roll and place seam side down into the baking dish. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices, placing rolls side by side. Ladle remaining tomato sauce over eggplant rolls to coat them evenly. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top.
Cover dish loosely with aluminum foil and bake until the edges of the casserole are bubbling and filling is heated through, about 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.