Four-Cheese Eggplant Rollatini

5 from 2 votes
1 hour 45 minutes
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Four-Cheese Eggplant Rollatini is the perfect balance of comfort and sophistication! Baked in a lively tomato sauce, tender roasted eggplant surrounds a creamy combination of four cheeses and fragrant herbs for a dish that’s simply divine!

Four-Cheese Eggplant Rollatini in oval baking dish garnished with fresh basil.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

Eggplant Rollatini captures the essence of rustic Italian cuisine. Also called Eggplant Involtini, this homestyle Italian dish has comfort, sophistication, and deliciousness all rolled into one.

Tender, roasted eggplant slices envelop a creamy four-cheese combination of cottage cheese, rich ricotta cheese, Parmesan, and Mozzarella. These enticing bundles are then baked in a lively tomato sauce with more melty cheese over the top.

Although Eggplant Rollatini is traditionally dredged in flour or coated with breadcrumbs and fried, the eggplant in this recipe is baked for a fresher, lighter taste.

This easy Eggplant Rollatini recipe is:

  • Simply delicious!
  • Low-carb.
  • Make ahead!
  • Vegetarian when rennet-free or vegan Parmesan cheese is used.

Let’s make it!

Serving spoon scooping one Eggplant Rollatini from oval baking dish.

How to Make Four-Cheese Eggplant Rollatini:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this easy Eggplant Rollatini recipe, along with how to prep the ingredients. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Red Onion: I like to use red onion in tomato sauce because they’re both mild and sweet.
  • Petite Diced Tomatoes: Petite diced tomatoes are essentially diced tomatoes but in a smaller form. They cook down more quickly than regular diced tomatoes but still lend texture to the sauce. If all you have on hand is regular diced tomatoes, use kitchen shears to chop them right in the can.
  • Crushed Tomatoes: Crushed tomatoes are made by peeling and seeding whole tomatoes, which are then crushed.  Tomato puree is usually added. Crushed tomatoes have a slightly chunkier texture than canned tomato sauce or purée, and their flavor is slightly more concentrated. Because of the consistency, they’re a good choice for pasta sauces and this Eggplant Rollatini. Mutti Crushed Tomatoes is my favorite brand.
  • Italian Seasoning: Italian seasoning is a blend of dried herbs, usually including oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, and sage. Dried herbs should be added early in the cooking process, while fresh herbs like basil should be added later.
  • Globe Eggplant: Select medium-sized eggplants that have a grass-green top, are free of blemishes, and feel heavy, which indicates it has plenty of moisture on the inside. The flesh of eggplant is not a nutritional giant; however, the deep purple skin contains a powerful antioxidant, so keeping the skin on the eggplant is a good idea.
  • Ricotta Cheese: Use the highest quality ricotta cheese you can find or make your own.
  • Cottage Cheese: I like to use cottage cheese in addition to ricotta for this Eggplant Rollatini recipe. I don’t use all ricotta cheese because of the grainy texture. Cottage cheese adds creaminess without a lot of added fat.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Most Parmesan cheese is made with animal rennet. For a vegetarian Eggplant Rollatini, use a rennet-free Parmesan such as BelGioioso Vegetarian Parmesan or a vegan “Parmesan” cheese.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • MAKE THE SAUCE: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the onion has softened.
  • Add the garlic and cook briefly, 10 to 15 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes or until thickened.
  • Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and black pepper, and stir in the fresh basil. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9-inch or other large baking dish with cooking spray or brush with olive oil.
  • PREPARE THE EGGPLANT: Trim the stem and bottom ends of the eggplant.
  • Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise (top to bottom).
  • Cut five slices from each eggplant that are approximately 1/4-inch wide for a total of 10, starting with the middle part of the eggplant. Depending upon the size of your eggplant, you might be able to get 12 slices. Reserve the ends for another use, like Moroccan Caponata.
  • Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
  • Generously salt the slices of eggplant, then place on the paper towels. Let sit for 30 minutes, then blot the eggplant dry with paper towels.
Ten eggplant slices on paper towel-lined baking sheets.
  • Replace the paper towels with parchment paper.
  • Spray the eggplant with cooking spray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the eggplant is pliable. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
  • PREPARE THE FILLING: Combine the cottage cheese and ricotta cheese in a mini food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
Ricotta and cottage cheese whipped together in mini food processor.
  • Stir in half the Parmesan cheese, half the Mozzarella, the parsley, scallions, garlic, egg, and salt and black pepper to taste.
  • ASSEMBLE: Place equal amounts of the cheese filling on each eggplant slice.
  • Pour 2/3 of the sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
  • Roll up and place the filled eggplant rolls in the baking dish with the seam side down.
  • Spoon the remaining sauce over the eggplant rolls, then top with the remaining cheese.
  • MAKE AHEAD: Can be made 1-2 days ahead of time to this point and refrigerated. Let sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. You’ll need to increase the baking time.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through, bubbling, and the cheese begins to brown.
  • Cover lightly with aluminum foil and let the Eggplant Rollatini rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve over angel hair pasta if desired.
  • Cheesy, bubbling Italian food goodness!
Baked Four-Cheese Eggplant Rollatini with serving spoon.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • When selecting eggplant, choose medium-sized eggplants that have a grass-green top, are free of blemishes, and feel heavy. This indicates it has plenty of moisture on the inside.
  • I halve the eggplant from top to bottom before cutting the slices. Then, using a sharp knife, I score the eggplant all the way around to mark where to slice. Then, carefully slice the eggplant, following the scoring, rotating it until the slice is completely cut from the eggplant half.
  • Combining the cottage cheese and ricotta cheese in a food processor or blender gives the filling a light “whipped” consistency.
  • Make this easy Eggplant Rollatini recipe easier! Use your favorite jarred marinara sauce or sauce you canned yourself from your own fresh, homegrown tomatoes to save time.
Baked Four-Cheese Eggplant Rollatini garnished with fresh basil.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What’s the difference between Eggplant Rollatini and Eggplant Parmesan?

For Eggplant Parmesan, round eggplant slices are coated with breadcrumbs and then fried or baked. It is then layered with cheese and marinara sauce. Eggplant Rollatini has slices cut lengthwise. They’re sometimes breaded or fried, then filled with a cheesy mixture before rolling.

Should eggplant be peeled?

It’s really a personal preference. I don’t peel eggplant because it adds color, and the skin has an important type of antioxidant called anthocyanins. It’s a type of pigment with antioxidant properties and is responsible for its vibrant color.

Can you make Eggplant Rollatini ahead of time?

Eggplant Rollatini is a great make-ahead dish! It can be made 1-2 days ahead of time and refrigerated. Let sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking so that you aren’t placing a cold baking dish in a hot oven. Because it has been in the refrigerator, increase the baking time.

Can you freeze Eggplant Rollatini?

Yes! Eggplant Rollatini can be frozen before baking or after baking. Thaw in the refrigerator, then bake as directed if it was not baked before freezing. If it has been baked, reheat in a 350-degree oven.

Baked Four-Cheese Eggplant Rollatini with serving spoon.

Variations:

  • Add spinach to the filling mix. If using frozen chopped spinach, thaw and squeeze out the excess moisture before adding to the cheese blend. If using fresh, saute or steam the spinach first, then drain or gently squeeze the excess moisture.
  • Place a slice of prosciutto over the eggplant before adding the cheese blend.

Storage:

  • Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.
  • Freeze the rollatini baked or unbaked for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator.

Serve with:

More great eggplant recipes you’ll love!

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Serving spoon scooping one Eggplant Rollatini from oval baking dish.

Four-Cheese Eggplant Rollatini

5 from 2 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Four-Cheese Eggplant Rollatini is the perfect balance of comfort and sophistication! Baked in a lively tomato sauce, tender roasted eggplant surrounds a creamy combination of four cheeses and fragrant herbs for a dish that's simply divine!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Vegetarian / Vegan Entrees
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 498 kcal

Ingredients
  

Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion - finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 can (28-ounce) crushed tomatoes - or 2 15-ounce cans
  • 1 can (28-ounce) petite diced tomatoes - undrained, or 2 15-ounce cans, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes - or to tolerance
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste

Eggplant and Filling

  • 2 medium globe eggplants - (approximately 1 1/2 pounds each)
  • Salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup cottage cheese - regular or reduced-fat
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese - divided
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese - divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley - plus more for garnish
  • 2 scallions - white and light green part only, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 large egg
  • Freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • Angel hair pasta - optional, for serving

Instructions
 

Sauce

  • Heat the olive oil in a saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 4-5 minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the garlic and cook briefly, 10-15 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and black pepper, and stir in the fresh basil. Set aside.

Eggplant and Filling

  • PREPARE THE EGGPLANT: While the sauce is simmering, prepare the eggplant. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9-inch or other large baking dish with cooking spray or brush with olive oil.
  • Trim the stem and bottom ends of the eggplant. Slice eggplant in half lengthwise (top to bottom). Cut 5 1/4-inch slices from each eggplant for a total of 10, starting with the middle part of the eggplant. (Depending upon the size of your eggplant, you might be able to get 12 slices.) Reserve the ends for another use.
  • Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Generously salt the slices of eggplant, then place on the paper towels. Let sit for 30 minutes, then blot the eggplant dry with paper towels. Replace the paper towels with parchment paper. Spray the eggplant with cooking spray. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the eggplant is pliable. Remove from the oven and let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.
  • PREPARE THE FILLING: Combine the cottage cheese and ricotta cheese in a mini food processor or blender. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in half the Parmesan cheese, half the Mozzarella, the parsley, scallions, garlic, egg and salt and black pepper to taste. Place equal amounts of the cheese filling on each eggplant slice.
  • ASSEMBLE: Pour 2/3 of the sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Roll up and place the filled eggplant rolls in the baking dish with the seam side down.
  • Spoon the remaining sauce over the eggplant rolls then top with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until heated through, bubbling and the cheese is starting to brown. Cover lightly with aluminum foil and let the Eggplant Rollatini rest for 5-10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve over angel hair pasta if desired.

Notes

Cutting the eggplant in half through the middle first enables you to cut consistently sized slices rather than starting from the eggplant’s side.  Score the eggplant all the way around first so you can mark where to slice.
MAKE AHEAD: Can be made 1-2 days ahead of time and refrigerated. Let sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. You’ll need to increase the baking time.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  Eggplant Rollatini can be frozen before baking or after baking. Thaw in the refrigerator, then bake as directed if it was not baked before freezing. If it has been baked, reheat in a 350-degree oven.

Nutrition

Serving: 4 | Calories: 498kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 607mg | Potassium: 789mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1094IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 527mg | Iron: 2mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this the easy way – with jarred sauce – and it was quick, easy, and delicious. I didn’t put my cheese mixture in the blender because I like it with a little more texture. I was afraid that my rolls wouldn’t work, but they stayed together!