Eggplant Parmesan is one of the classic red-checkered-tablecloth Italian-American recipes, but I prefer this slightly easier and lighter recipe, with a very similar concept—combining eggplant with cheese and marinara sauce. This makes an elegant, satisfying side dish as well as a great entrée for a vegetarian meal (make sure your vegetarians eat dairy, though—there’s lots of it here). You could also make this dish with zucchini.
Arrange The Eggplant Slices over a large baking sheet and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of salt (this will help extract the moisture from the eggplant). Set the eggplant aside for 15 minutes. Rinse the eggplant to remove the salt, and pat dry.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for medium heat, or preheat a ridged grill pan over a medium flame. Brush the eggplant slices with ½ cup of oil and grill until lightly browned and tender, about 4 minutes per side.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the pine nuts on a heavy baking sheet, and toast in the oven, stirring once, until the nuts are fragrant and light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Maintain the oven temperature.
Lightly oil a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, mix the ricotta cheese and eggs to blend. Gently stir in the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and toasted pine nuts. Fold in the basil just to combine (do not overmix). Place 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture at one short end of each eggplant slice and roll up tightly. Place the eggplant rollatini seam side down in the prepared baking dish. (The eggplant rollatini can be prepared up to this point 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Spoon the marinara sauce evenly over the eggplant rollatini and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
Bake uncovered until the eggplant rollatini are heated through, about 15 minutes.
Drizzle more oil over the eggplant rollatini and serve.
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