Appetizers & Sides · Food

Wrapped up in love

What better cookbook to consult for Christmas recipes than Nigella Lawson’s Feast? This dish instantly caught my eye because of the main ingredient, eggplant, which I love, combined with many other favourites: soft mozzarella, parmesan, pine nuts, and lashings of good olive oil. The deep tomato red and brilliant parsley green make it look truly festive. It can be assembled a day ahead, topping and all, and stored in the fridge. And since Christmas isn’t over until Epiphany, you still have time to whip this up—whether to share with friends and family, or to enjoy yourself over a quiet dinner at home.

I give you Nigella’s exact proportions below; adjust up or down, according to your needs and tastes. I used 4 eggplants to feed 7 people as a first course, threw in more garlic than called for in the recipe, and added an extra handful of breadcrumbs. It worked out just fine.

INVOLTINI

Serves 6

Cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices:

  • 2-3 large eggplants (about 1 lb. each)

Brush each slice on both sides with olive oil (not extra-virgin) and grill until soft.

Mix together:

  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3/4 cup soft mozzarella, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cup pinenuts
  • 1/3 cup raisins, plumped up in 1/4 cup hot water then drained
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 egg, beaten

Spread a small amount of the filling on each grilled eggplant slice and roll it up. Place each roll in a baking dish.

Cover the top with:

  • A few spoonfuls of crushed canned tomatoes
  • More chopped mozzarella, parsley, and grated parmesan

If you’re making it a day ahead, take the dish out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature before baking.

Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving (it tastes better when it’s not too piping hot).

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