Eggplant is most certainly one of my favorite vegetables. While I love any Italian dish with eggplant like Eggplant Baked Ziti and Baked Eggplant Parm, a fun Mediterranean vegetarian stuffed eggplant, or a classic like Turkish Stuffed Eggplant, transforming eggplant into involtini is quick, easy, and delicious.
Interested in more ways to roast eggplant? You should definitely try Whole Roasted Eggplant, Fire Roasted Eggplant, and Roasted Eggplant Halves.
Why Should You Try This Recipe?
Eggplant and ricotta are a match made in heaven – and for good reason. An America’s Test Kitchen recipe that stood the test of time, I make this easy vegetarian recipe during the eggplant season. I know you will love it because:
- Healthy and satisfying: Baking eggplant slices in the oven cuts down on prep time (and all the unwanted fat and calories from frying) and allows the meaty texture of eggplant to shine.
- A feast for eyes: I always make this involtini recipe when I am entertaining. It’s one of those dishes that make people swoon as soon as you place it in the middle of the table. First, the smell hits them, and then the beauty of rolled eggplant with ricotta cheese simmering in tomato sauce.
- Hearty and vegetarian: I love a vegetarian meal that can stand up on its own. Serve it with a crisp green salad such as my Spring Mix Salad or Butter Lettuce Salad on the side for a summery feel.
This is an Italian-style eggplant recipe that relies on just a handful of fresh and flavorful ingredients that you probably have in your fridge/pantry.
For the eggplant, you will need two large eggplants, olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper.
To make the filling, gather together ricotta cheese, breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, fresh basil leaves, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
For the tomato sauce, you will need olive oil, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, canned diced tomatoes, and fresh basil.
Ingredient Substitutions and Notes
- Eggplant: When you are shopping for eggplant, I recommend buying shorter and wider ones that are similar in size. I buy globe eggplants that are widely available.
- Ricotta Cheese: I use this Homemade Ricotta Cheese recipe, but you can use storebought full-fat ricotta as well.
- Breadcrumbs: Use unseasoned regular breadcrumbs. Feel free to swap them out for gluten-free breadcrumbs instead.
- Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese can be used interchangeably.
- Fresh Herbs: Feel free to add more herbs to the ricotta cheese mixture, such as fresh parsley or oregano. Garnishing with fresh chopped parsley adds a special finishing touch.
- Tomato Sauce: I like to make a simple tomato sauce from scratch. Or, if you want to save on time, use one jar (half a recipe) of this Homemade Tomato Sauce or any leftover marinara sauce you have in your fridge.
How to Make
The simplicity of this eggplant stuffed with ricotta really brings the eggplant into focus. Here’s how to make it:
Step 1: Bake Eggplant
Below are the basic steps to precook the eggplant slices for this recipe. However, if you wish to learn more about it, be sure to check my detailed post on Baked Eggplant Slices.
- Prep equipment: Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees. Set up two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray.
- Slice the eggplants: Cut the stem end off, then peel each eggplant with a vegetable peeler. Slice eggplant lengthwise into ½-inch thick slices. Trim the rounded ends for even cooking. New to preparing eggplant? Check out our guide on How To Slice an Eggplant like a pro.
- Coat with olive oil: Brush eggplant slices with olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
- Bake: Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender and soft to touch. Flip the eggplant slices and switch and rotate the sheets halfway through baking.
Step 2: Prepare The Ricotta Filling
Mix all ingredients: Combine ricotta cheese, breadcrumbs, grated cheese, chopped fresh basil, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
Step 3: Make the Tomato Sauce
- Saute aromatics and seasonings: In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, add olive oil and heat for 1 minute over medium heat. Add the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, oregano, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for 30 seconds.
- Cook tomatoes: Stir in the canned diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat, until thickened for about 12 to 15 minutes.
- Add basil: Once tomatoes have thickened, add the chopped basil, give it a large stir and turn off the heat.
Step 4: Assembly
- Roll the eggplant: Evenly distribute the ricotta cheese mixture onto the widest end of each eggplant slice (bottom third of each slice). Then, gently roll eggplant slices with your hands. Place seam side down, in the pan with the tomato sauce.
- Simmer, then broil: Once all the eggplant slices are in the pan, bring it back up to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, then broil for 5 more minutes in the oven.
- Finish and serve: Sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese and chopped basil. When serving, place a rolled eggplant on a plate and spoon tomato sauce over.
What to Serve with This Recipe?
Eggplant ricotta rolls are a beautiful and showstopping meal perfect for any dinner party or potluck. Some of my favorite ways to serve include:
- Treat yourself to a vegetarian main course: Make it a complete vegetarian meal with some crusty bread and one of my delicious Quinoa Salads on the side.
- Side Dish: Serve it as a side dish to any meat dish such as Turkish Kofte, Instant Pot Pot Roast, Grilled Shrimp Skewers, or Spaghetti Bolognese.
How to Make Ahead, Store, Freeze and Reheat?
The eggplant rollatini will keep stored to enjoy later in the week. It can also be made ahead. Here’s how I like to do it:
- Make-Ahead: You can make the whole recipe, until the last broil, bring to room temperature, cover it tightly with stretch film, and keep it in the refrigerator a day in advance. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and reheat it for about 15 minutes or until thoroughly warmed. Garnish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese right before serving.
- Store: Transfer the ricotta eggplant rolls to a large container big enough to fit them in a single layer. Seal tight and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Reheat: Transfer to an oven-safe baking dish, and reheat, covered, in a 350-degree F oven for 10-15 minutes. Or, reheat 1-2 pieces in the microwave in 30-second to 1-minute increments until warmed through.
- Freeze: Prepare as directed, then cool completely. Transfer to a freezer-safe and oven-safe casserole dish. Cover it tightly with stretch film (and/or aluminum foil) to prevent freezer burn. Freeze for up to 1 month.
- Reheat: Bake right from frozen, covered with aluminum foil, in a 350-degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until warmed through.
- Use a 10-inch oven-proof skillet. This makes it easier to transfer from stovetop to oven. Alternatively, if you do not oven an oven-proof skillet, spread the tomato sauce at the bottom of a baking dish, nestle the rolled eggplant into the sauce, and bake in the oven.
- Sweating eggplants: As you can see in the recipe below, I did not salt the eggplants as I was making this baked stuffed eggplant recipe during the eggplant season. However, if you prefer salting yours, feel free to do so before baking the eggplant slices in the oven. If you are new to it, be sure to check out my guide on How To Prepare and Salt eggplant before cooking.
- Not a fan of broiling? Alternatively, you can place the skillet in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 10-15 minutes before serving.
The Italian word involtini means small bundles. And this dish is exactly that. Thinly sliced eggplant filled with a delicious ricotta cheese filling that’s rolled into a bundle and cooked in an easy-to-make tomato sauce.
The technique and recipe used in involtini and rollatini recipes are very similar with the exception that, when making rollatini, some people bread eggplant slices before baking and rolling.
Yes, it can be. Simply bring it to room temperature, transfer it to a freezer-safe container, and tightly cover it with a lid (or stretch film). Freeze it up to a month.
Want more Italian Comfort Food?
Here are a few more Italian dishes that you might also like:
- Bread Dipping Oil – Italian Restaurant Style
- Pesto Caprese Pasta Salad
- Pizza Caprese
- Pesto Salad Dressing
- Crispy Baked Breaded Eggplant
If you try this Eggplant Involtini recipe or any other eggplant recipes on Foolproof Living, please take a minute to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. And if you took some pictures, be sure to share them on Instagram using #foolproofeats so I can share them on my stories.
Eggplant Involtini Recipe
For Baked Eggplant Slices
- 2 globe eggplants each approximately 1 to 1/2 half lbs.*
- 5 tablespoons olive oil divided
- Kosher Salt and Pepper
For Ricotta Mixture
- 1 cup homemade ricotta cheese or full fat store bought ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese Or Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
For Tomato Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 can diced tomatoes 28 oz of can
- 1/2 cup fresh basil loosly packed and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
To prepare eggplant:
- Pre-heat your oven to 400 F Degrees.
- Peel the eggplants. Cut them lengthwise into 6 slices. Each slice should be about 1/2 inch thick. Trim the rounded ends so that they will lay flat.
- Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and spray them generously with cooking spray. Place 6 eggplant slices on each baking sheet.
- Start with the first baking sheet. Brush each eggplant slice with two and a half tablespoons of olive oil (you use the 2 1/2 tbs olive oil to brush all of the slices) and season it with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Flip each slice and do the same thing for the other side. Repeat the same process for the second baking sheet.
- Place both sheets in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until they are tender and lightly browned. To ensure even baking, flip eggplant slices and switch and rotate sheets halfway through the baking process.
- When eggplants are baked, let them cool for 5 minutes.
To make the filling:
- Place 1 cup of homemade ricotta cheese (or full-fat supermarket ricotta cheese), 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir until they are all combined. Set aside.
To make the tomato sauce:
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet (I used a 10-inch skillet). Add the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, oregano, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, on medium-low heat, until it thickens, 12-15 minutes.
- At the very end, add the chopped basil, give it a large stir, cover, and set aside.
- With the widest side of the eggplant slices facing you, evenly distribute approximately 1 1/2 to 2 tabelspoons of ricotta mixture onto each slice. Starting from the widest end, gently roll each piece and place it, seamed side down, in the pan with the tomato sauce.
- Bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Allow it to cook for 5 minutes.
- Turn the broiler on, place it in the oven, and broil* for 5 minutes until the eggplants and cheese are warmed thoroughly.
- Sprinkle it with 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil.
- When ready to serve, place a few eggplant rolls onto a plate and spoon a generous amount of tomato sauce over it.
- When you are shopping for eggplants I recommend buying shorter and wider ones that are similar in size. I also recommend making sure that they are sliced around 1/2-inch thick, which should give you 5-6 slices per eggplant.
- Sweating eggplants: As you can see in the recipe, I did not salt the eggplants as I was making this recipe during the eggplant season. However, if you prefer salting yours, feel free to do so before baking the eggplant slices in the oven. If you are new to it, be sure to check out my guide on How To Prepare and Salt eggplant before cooking.
- Not a fan of broiling? Alternatively, you can place the skillet in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted (with minor changes) from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, June 2014 edition.
This post was originally published in July 2014. It has been updated with new photos and helpful information in April 2022.
Aysegul – I certainly was not disappointed by another wonderful recipe from you. This dish was really wonderful and I must say, I am an eggplant convert. I am working my way through many of your recipes as they fit my plant-based (and somewhat restrictive) diet that I am on. Just wanted to let you know that your soups and beautiful veggie dishes will be warming up my Pittsburgh winter!
How nice of you to let me know that you like my recipes. I am so SO glad that I am able to provide you with recipes that help you with your cooking. This eggplant dish is a favorite in our house as well. 🙂
THANK YOU so much Makeda. Seriously, this means so much to me.
THIS LOOKS AMAZING, CAN’T WAIT TO MAKE IT. HEADING TO VEGGIE STAND @ LUNCH
YAY! I hope you like it as much as we do. 🙂
This is one of the rare posts that leave no question marks behind! Great recipe, great pics, awesome video! Will try soon.
That is so SO sweet. Thank you!
This looks delicious, I’m going to have to give it a try cause I have to be honest of all the vegetables out there I have not been able to embrace eggplant, I’ve made it a few times where it’s turned out okay and everyone seems to like it but me! But I’ve not tried it in little cheese bundles so I’m going to have to to give this a shot right after your fantastic chicken! Hugs from Germany x
Hey Aysegul, I’m in the middle of making this dish and discovered that your ingredient list calls for 1/4 + 1/2 cups chopped fresh basil. My problem is that I can’t fumigate out what to use the last 1/2 cup of basil for. Is this a typo or am I missing something? Also, I’d add the 2T chopped fresh parsley to the ingredient list. Maybe you ment to garnish with the last 1/2 cup basil?
I used the 1/2 cup of basil in the tomato sauce to give it a lot of basil flavor. If you are making the tomato sauce yourself you can add it at the very end. If you didn’t, you’ll still be fine.
In terms of the parsley, it was intentional. I garnished it with parsley.
I am sorry for the error. I corrected it.
Please let me if I can help you in any other way.
Thank you for letting me know.
As you can see from my typing, we all make errors (fumigate out = figure out) 🙂 Thanks for posting this, I ended up using the basil at the end and my husband and I really enjoyed eating this for dinner. Love the recipes you post on your site, and the pictures are the best!!
These kinds of mistakes for a recipe writer are very embarrassing, but mistakes happen. Thank you so much for your understanding Amy. You are very kind. I appreciate it.
I am so SO glad to hear that you guys liked it.
Cheers from the sunny Caribbean islands!
Hi, I would love to make this recipe and was wondering whether I can substitute bread crumps to something else? We don’t eat white bread, may be something that’s less in calories?
You could do it with old-fashioned ground oats. I usually ground my oats in my food processor and then use the oat flour in recipes asking for bread crumbs.
Now, I have to be honest, I have never tried making this recipe with oats so I am not 100% sure that it would work perfectly. However, I think oat flour is a good substitute.
I hope this helps.
Hey! Cooks specifically says NOT to use pre-diced tomatoes, as they take longer to break down. Use whole tomatoes and crush them with your fingers. (There was a long discussion about why in the article.)
In any case, this is a great recipe, and freezes well, too.
Oh, and it can’t be 2.5 Tbsp of olive oil for each eggplant slice!! What does the original say? (Can’t find it..!)
Yes, you are right. You use the 2.5 tbsp olive oil for all the eggplant slices. Not just for 1 slice.
I made the changes in the recipe to make it clear.
Thank you so much for pointing it out.
And please let me know if I can answer any other questions you may have.
Interesting.. Do you have a copy of that article? I would love to read it.
Thank you for your kind comment and letting me know about the tomatoes.
It’s a great idea to bake eggplant in the oven then cook with it. I love eggplant but always have trouble to cook with them, since it requires a lot of oil to be delicious. I never had eggplant involtini before, but they look so delicious in the picture.
Thanks for sharing! 🙂
I love eggplant so much too and I’m happy to see it at bazaar these days. You know it tastes better in summer. I like it in any forms from karniyarik and imambayildi to a simple fried version. Never had involtini before. These little bundles look so elegant! Love the ricotta filling inside. Bookmarking it to try later.
I came across this post on Blogher and just wanted to say the Eggplant Involtini looks so nice (and delicious). I would be such great dish to entertain with.
You are right. It is a great dish for entertaining.
Thank you for stopping by.