Aubergines might just be my favourite vegetable. After tomatoes. And asparagus. Ok, ok, they’re just up there. They’re delicious, really filling and not that bad for you if you don’t soak them in 1000 litres of oil while cooking them.
Aubergines really do absorb a lot of of oil, to avoid it one of the best ways I’ve found to cook aubergines is on a griddle pan, and that’s what happens in this recipe. Thin slices of aubergine are griddled, before being stuffed with a creamy cheesy spinachy filling and topped with tomato sauce. DELIGHTFUL.
If you don’t have a griddle pan you can fry the aubergines or bake them in the oven, but they do need to be cooked before you can roll them or they’ll just break apart.
I call this Greek Cannelloni because the feta, ricotta and spinach mix feels distinctly Greek to me, and they’re kind of cannelloni-like in being tubes baked in a tomato sauce. I guess the basil isn’t very Greek, but call it what you want, it’s really tasty.
Greek Cannelloni – Aubergine Rolls Stuffed with Feta, Spinach and Ricotta
- 1 large aubergine cut lengthways into 1cm thick strips
- 1 jar passata
- 1 shallot, diced
- 2 cloves garlic (optional)
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 bag fresh (or frozen is fine too) spinach
- 3-4 tablespoons ricotta
- 1/2 block feta cheese
- Olive oil, for frying
- Fresh basil (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 200c. Take the aubergine slices and lay on a lightly oiled, hot griddle pan. Cook until tender and set to one side to cool. I like to put them on some kitchen roll to absorb any excess oil. In a large pan soften the chopped shallot and garlic and then add the passata and oregano, and leave to reduce for 20 minutes or so on a low heat.
Meanwhile cook the spinach in a tiny bit of water – I just blast it in the microwave for 40 seconds or so. Once it’s wilted down, cool it under the cold tap so you can handle it and then squeeze loads to get all the water out – this is really important or you’ll have a soggy mess. Mix together the cheeses, serving a bit of the feta for topping, and add the squeezed out, cooked spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Next take your cooked aubergine slices and put a little of the cheese mixture – around 2 teaspoons – at one end of the slice. Roll up around the filling and place into an ovenproof dish. Repeat with all your pieces of aubergine so you have lots of little rolls. Make sure your dish is quite a snug fit around the rolls or they may unfurl during the cooking process. Top with the tomato sauce and then crumble some feta on top.
Place in the middle of the oven for a good 30 minutes, checking that the cheese has gotten hot into the middle of the dish before serving. Scatter with some fresh, torn up basil and enjoy!