Rotoli di Melanzane con Ripieno di Pistacchio

No summer garden is complete without aubergines, or as they are known in these United States, eggplants. Luckily, we live in a time when people eat this wonder fruit. Not long ago, people avoided it for fear of it being poisonous on account of its dark shades. It turns out though, that aubergines are incredibly healthy. Not only are they low in calories and delicious, they are also one of the only vegetables with protein content. Aubergines are also incredibly versatile. You can grill them and eat the slices, use them in sautés, in stir frys, or roast them whole and purée them into the delicious middle eastern dip baba ganoush. The possibilities are limitless

One of my favorite methods of preparing eggplants has always been grilled aubergine roulettes. You might remember my recipe for aubergine roulettes with goat cheese, but this recipe with its savoury herbal pistachio stuffing takes the cake.

Some time in the spring the LA times featured a recipe for grilled aubergine stuffed with a walnut herb mixture, which inspired this recipe. Walnuts are delicious, and very healthy, but I have always preferred pistachios to other nuts. This preference was affirmed when I discovered a recipe for a Sicilian pesto in Clothidle from Chocolate and Zucchini’s cookbook. That recipe called for pistachios in place of the traditional pine nuts, and it makes sense, as the pistachio enjoys widespread cultivation in Sicily, and a place of prominence on Sicilian tables. Suffice it to say, her pesto is probably the best I’ve ever had, and I’ll probably never turn back to pine nuts now that my love of pistachios has been amplified by an awareness of their versatility in the kitchen.

So in Sicilian style I applied a similar substitution to this recipe, and replaced the walnuts with pistachios. I also omitted the coriander seeds, and modified the flavors by using some dried culinary flowers from my garden. The exotic floral notes of lavender and rose combine with the barbecue flavor of the aubergines, and the savoury herbal pistachio filling to make an unforgettable appetizer. These little rolls are amazing served immediately, and just as delicious served cold.

Overall, the recipe is a snap. The only obnoxious part is salting the aubergines. Italian aubergines are quite bitter naturally, so they have to be salted to make them palatable. If you leave aubergine slices sprinkled with salt for about 15 minutes, the bitter juices will be drawn out, and you can then rinse the slices and proceed.

Lastly, although this recipe can be made without a food processor by using a mortar and pestle, or even a large kitchen knife, using the processor will make your life easier, and the prep much quicker. You don’t need an industrial Cuisinart, just the smallest chopper will work. My own food processor has been broken for a few months, but I noticed Target had a tiny 2 cup processor on sale on their web page for 20 dollars or so. As luck would have it, I managed to snag the very last one on the shelves of the San Jose Target, and it had been reduced to $3.00 because it was the very last one in stock. I was pretty excited, as these machines are truly amazing tools. So, get to the store, and buy a processor! Your culinary experience will never be the same afterward.

Rotoli di Melanzane con Ripieno di Pistacchio:

(Aubergine Roulettes with Pistachio Filling)

  • 2 Aubergines
  • 1 1/2 cup dry roast, unsalted pistachios
  • 1/3 cup onion
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, packed
  • 1/3 cup parsley packed
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Fresno pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 green onion for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon lavender
  • 1 teaspoon dried rose petals
  • salt and pepper to taste

Slice the tops and bottoms from the aubergines so they stand level.

Slice the aubergines into 1/4 inch slices. Salt the slices, and set aside for about 15 minutes to allow the salt to draw the bitter juices from them. Light the grill.

Place the remaining ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until a coarse paste results. You can do this step by hand with a mortar and pestle, or even a large kitchen knife, but even a tiny food processor will make your life much easier here. Use only as much of the olive oil as needed to achieve a coarse, but well blended consistency, like a very thick pesto. Reserve the rest of the oil, and place the filling in the fridge, and allow the flavors to meld.

Rinse the aubergine slices, and pat dry. Brush each slice with a kiss of olive oil. Place the slices on a hot grill.

Cook each slice about 3-5 minutes on each side, or until grill marks appear, and the edges begin to crisp, but the slices are still pliant. Be careful not to overcook the aubergine slices, or they will be more like chips, and you won’t be able to roll them around the filling.

Place about one tablespoon of pistachio filling on each slice, and roll up.

Toss parsley, cilantro, and green onion atop the aubergine slices for garnish. Sprinkle the whole plate with lemon juice.

These are equally delicious either enjoyed right away, or left to sit covered in the fridge, and served cold.

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2 Responses to “Rotoli di Melanzane con Ripieno di Pistacchio”

  1. jgaff1041 Says:

    Good stuff Michael… Can I still call you that?

    • pavaarsmunters Says:

      Sure, you can call me whatever you like. I’ve been introducing myself as Miķelis for many years now, but most people can’t pronounce it, so I normally say Mike works fine after that.

      I’m glad you like the blog though!

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