Eggplant and Quinoa Involtini

Eggplant and Quinoa Involtini

Some of my favourite foods involve a filling wrapped in something. Potstickers and bacon wrapped dates are just two examples of little parcels of tastiness whose wrappers not only serve to hold everything together, but add complimentary tastes and textures in the process.

Involtini is a southern Italian dish typically made with veal or beef wrapped around a filling. This vegetarian version inspired by Nigella Lawson’s “Soft and Sharp Involtini” is a little more Greek in flavor. Upon actually looking up the recipe in Nigella Bites, I’m realizing it’s actually quite different, so let’s just say it’s inspired in spirit.

The smokey grilled eggplant makes the perfect wrapper for the tart creamy filling. The mint gives it a nice fresh taste and with the quinoa, you’d swear there was some ground meat in it. It looks complicated but it took me a little less than an hour to prep.

for the rolls
2-3 long italian eggplants
EVOO
4 slices fresh mozarella

for the sauce
1 Tbs EVOO
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp oregano
14oz can of whole tomatoes hand crushed
1/4 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

for filling
3/4 C cooked quinoa
1/2 C feta
1/4 C roasted red bell peppers chopped
1/4 C toasted pine nuts
2 Tbs bread crumbs
2 Tbs mint minced
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp honey

Slice the eggplant lengthwise just a bit thinner than 1/4″. I used a french mandoline, but you could probably do this with a sharp knife. Toss the end pieces. You should have 12 uniform slices. Use a pastry brush or other implement to coat both sides with a generous dose of olive oil.

Put your oven rack to the top position and broil the eggplant for a few minutes on one side until the surface is nice and brown. If your oven is retarded like mine, you’ll probably need to do it in a couple of batches to brown them evenly. If you don’t already have some roasted red pepper sitting in the fridge, this is also the perfect time to grill some for the filling.

While the eggplant is in the oven you can get the sauce started. Saute the onions, garlic and oregano in the olive oil until fragrant and soft. Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper simmering for about 15 minutes until it’s slightly reduced and nice and thick.

For the filling, just toss all the ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine. Feta is usually pretty salty so you probably don’t need to add any salt. My feta was a bit lacking in the salt department so I added a pinch. My feta was also pretty soft, so I didn’t need to use an egg to bind it together, but if your filling is too crumbly, add an egg at this point.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the rolls, just drop about a tablespoon of filling onto a piece of eggplant and roll. I used an 8″x8″ glass pyrex, so I had 3 rows of 4 in the pan. Cover the rolls with tomato sauce then top with the slices of fresh mozarella. I sprinkled some paprika on top of the cheese for a bit of color.

Bake for 30-45 minutes until the sauce is nice and bubbly and the cheese has browned a bit on top. If the cheese needs more browning you can turn the oven on to broil for a few minutes to finish it off.

I served this with a mint chiffonade on top and a baby mizuna salad dressed with a lemon mint vinaigrette.

Thanks to Lore at Culinarty (who has an awesome blog with great photos) for giving us an E for Excellent award. While we’re totally honored to receive this, we don’t participate in memes (see this previous post).

  • http://culinarty.sapiensworks.com/ Lore

    Marc you totally deserve the award and though I had no idea that you don’t participate in memes if I would’ve knownm, I would’ve still given you the award. It’s easy to understand why you chose to be “that guy” haha.
    I’m off to the kitchen now :). Take care!

  • http://culinarty.sapiensworks.com/ Lore

    Marc you totally deserve the award and though I had no idea that you don’t participate in memes if I would’ve knownm, I would’ve still given you the award. It’s easy to understand why you chose to be “that guy” haha.
    I’m off to the kitchen now :). Take care!

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com/ Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    Hoorah for Nigella :) I’ve always wanted to make that involtini, OH isn’t keen on eggplants, so I might just have to make a vat all for myself…yours looks absolutely stunning, being inspired by recipes is great. The mint on top sounds perfect. I also heartily concur with how good bacon wrapped dates are (try it with prunes, too, very retro!)

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    Hoorah for Nigella :) I’ve always wanted to make that involtini, OH isn’t keen on eggplants, so I might just have to make a vat all for myself…yours looks absolutely stunning, being inspired by recipes is great. The mint on top sounds perfect. I also heartily concur with how good bacon wrapped dates are (try it with prunes, too, very retro!)

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    In this age of “Nigella Express” I kind of find it hard to believe she once made something so posh! :) Great combination of flavors you’ve made here!

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com manggy

    In this age of “Nigella Express” I kind of find it hard to believe she once made something so posh! :) Great combination of flavors you’ve made here!

  • http://mimikatzchen.blogspot.com/ mimi

    looks delish! i love all things wrapped and rolled, definitely want to try this one!

  • http://mimikatzchen.blogspot.com mimi

    looks delish! i love all things wrapped and rolled, definitely want to try this one!

  • http://www.noblepig.com/ noble pig

    How awesome! Anything wrapped in anything is idea of good eats.

  • http://www.noblepig.com/ noble pig

    How awesome! Anything wrapped in anything is idea of good eats.

  • http://asoutherngrace.blogspot.com/ grace

    i think i could eat just about anything that’s been wrapped up in eggplant and slathered with cheese. cardboard. canned tuna (ick). earthworms. this filling happens to be particularly pleasant. :)

  • http://asoutherngrace.blogspot.com grace

    i think i could eat just about anything that’s been wrapped up in eggplant and slathered with cheese. cardboard. canned tuna (ick). earthworms. this filling happens to be particularly pleasant. :)

  • http://caseyellis.blogspot.com/ Casey

    “inspired by Nigella”= always a good thing. I once spent a day food shopping and cooking with Nigella (for a newspaper article)and I know she’d applaud your working variations on her recipes.

  • http://caseyellis.blogspot.com Casey

    “inspired by Nigella”= always a good thing. I once spent a day food shopping and cooking with Nigella (for a newspaper article)and I know she’d applaud your working variations on her recipes.

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com/ We Are Never Full

    A very interesting idea… I wouldn’t normally think about the quinoa stuffing but now that I’m thinking about it, why the heck not?! and congrats on your award! very deserving!!

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com We Are Never Full

    A very interesting idea… I wouldn’t normally think about the quinoa stuffing but now that I’m thinking about it, why the heck not?! and congrats on your award! very deserving!!

  • http://www.thursdaynightsmackdown.com/ michelle @ TNS

    just say no to EVOO!

    love the quinoa filling. i’m always looking for things to do with quinoa other than salads or pilafs.

  • http://www.thursdaynightsmackdown.com michelle @ TNS

    just say no to EVOO!

    love the quinoa filling. i’m always looking for things to do with quinoa other than salads or pilafs.

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    wrapped fillings are great. always have so much more flavour infused at the end. this looks great.

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    wrapped fillings are great. always have so much more flavour infused at the end. this looks great.

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    That involtini looks really good. I also really like the sound of that bacon wrapped dates!

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    That involtini looks really good. I also really like the sound of that bacon wrapped dates!

  • marc

    Thanks for understanding Lore:-)

    Laura, honestly the eggplants kind of blend in with everything else and if you use italian eggplants they’re pretty mild tasting, so he might not even know they’re there… Great idea with the prunes I’ll have to give that a go sometime!

    Manggy, I’m glad to say I don’t own a copy of Nigella Express. That title just sounds wrong.

    Thanks mimi and noble pig!

    Grace, hahaha I’d eat just about anything wrapped in bacon, but not sure about eggplant.

    Casey, I’d have to say I’m a bit envious of your experience, she seems pretty cool and knows a thing or two about food which I can’t say the same for her American counterparts.

    Thanks We Are Never Full!

    michelle, I know… it’s such a catchphrase, but I’m lazy and I can’t be bothered typing it out.

    diva, I couldn’t agree more.

    Kevin, if you really want to go nuts, stuff the date with an almond, then wrap in bacon, grill, then top with a maple syrup reduction.

  • marc

    Thanks for understanding Lore:-)

    Laura, honestly the eggplants kind of blend in with everything else and if you use italian eggplants they’re pretty mild tasting, so he might not even know they’re there… Great idea with the prunes I’ll have to give that a go sometime!

    Manggy, I’m glad to say I don’t own a copy of Nigella Express. That title just sounds wrong.

    Thanks mimi and noble pig!

    Grace, hahaha I’d eat just about anything wrapped in bacon, but not sure about eggplant.

    Casey, I’d have to say I’m a bit envious of your experience, she seems pretty cool and knows a thing or two about food which I can’t say the same for her American counterparts.

    Thanks We Are Never Full!

    michelle, I know… it’s such a catchphrase, but I’m lazy and I can’t be bothered typing it out.

    diva, I couldn’t agree more.

    Kevin, if you really want to go nuts, stuff the date with an almond, then wrap in bacon, grill, then top with a maple syrup reduction.

  • http://www.justgetfloury.blogspot.com/ Ginny

    Delicious! I love quinoa!

  • http://www.justgetfloury.blogspot.com/ Ginny

    Delicious! I love quinoa!

  • http://www.cookeatfret.com/ Claudia (cook eat FRET)

    you win
    you involtini’ed first
    nice one…

  • http://www.cookeatfret.com Claudia (cook eat FRET)

    you win
    you involtini’ed first
    nice one…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=700800 Kim Nguyen

    MMM, think I’m going to try something sort of like this tonight. But with an italian sausage filling. MMM!

  • http://about.me/ifrit ifrit

    Quinoa is in the ingredients but not in the recipe… How do you use it? I bought quinoa… and now what?

    Thanks!!

    I already try this recipe without quinoa and was great ;)

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Sorry, I guess the recipe wasn’t super clear. I listed the quinoa, feta, roasted red pepper, toasted pine nuts, bread crumbs, mint, paprika and honey under the heading “for filling”, then in the recipe it says “For the filling, just toss all the ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine.” meaning you just put all the ingredients listed under “for filling” in a bowl and mix them together. I hope that helps.

      • http://about.me/ifrit ifrit

        Thanks for your answer ;) It helps. It’s just I never used quinoa before and I would like to be sure :)

  • Guest

    Why use the word ‘retarded’ in there? It leaves a bitter taste, despite what looks like a great recipe.

  • Pingback: Canelone de berinjela com quinoa | Organomix

  • guest

    This look like a fantastic recipe; but please, edit your post to remove the word ‘retarded’.

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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