APPETIZERS

Grilled eggplant roll-ups with ricotta pesto

Grilled eggplant roll-ups with ricotta pesto

We’ve been craving comfort foods over the last few days. And to us, these grilled eggplant roll-ups are among the most comforting of comfort foods. The combination of robust herby pesto and creamy ricotta rolled up in slices of smoky, tender grilled eggplant makes an amazing medley of tastes and textures.

You can make your own pesto from scratch, but good-quality store-bought pesto saves time and makes these tasty morsels a cinch to prepare.

You can serve them as part of an antipasto selection, or as a side-dish with Mediterranean-style grilled fish, chicken or skewers.  The creamy ricotta pesto can also be tossed through pasta, used to dress a potato salad, or layered in a lasagna.

For a version with a Middle Eastern twist, spread the grilled eggplant slices with hummus and top with sliced scallion and diced tomato before rolling up into parcels.

Grilled eggplant roll-ups with ricotta pesto
Serves 4
A combination of robust herby pesto and creamy ricotta rolled up in slices of smoky, tender grilled eggplant. You can serve them as part of an antipasto selection, or as a side dish with Mediterranean-style grilled fish, chicken or skewers.
2 medium eggplants
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup ricotta cheese
¾ cup pesto — ready-made or homemade pesto
2 teaspoons lemon juice
PREHEAT a stovetop grill pan or outdoor grill over high heat. CUT the eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices (about 6 slices each eggplant). BRUSH the eggplant slices evenly with olive oil on both sides. GRILL the eggplant slices in batches for 3 minutes each side. ALLOW to cool slightly. MIX the ricotta cheese, pesto and lemon juice together in a small bowl. SPREAD a heaped tablespoon of the mixture evenly over each eggplant slice. ROLL up the eggplant slices, place on a plate seam-side down, brush with a little olive oil if desired, and serve immediately.

Variations: Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olives, capers, roasted red pepper or prosciutto to the ricotta-pesto mixture for even more flavor and texture. For smaller bite-size roll-ups substitute grilled zucchini slices for eggplant, use less ricotta-pesto mixture in each, and secure rolls with a toothpick.