Makes 2-4 servings
Loosely adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen. The leftovers the next day taste delicious hot or cold, which makes this dish a good potluck option.
2 small Italian eggplants (or 1 large), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
16 ounces ricotta
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon salt
16 ounces tomato sauce
¼ cup milk or heavy cream
Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and lightly salt them. Let sit for 20 minutes until some moisture has been released. Pat the slices dry with paper towels.
3. Meanwhile, place a large (15-inch) cast iron skillet over a medium-high flame. Pour in enough oil to reach at least ¼ inch up the sides. Heat the oil until it sizzles when you place the first eggplant slice in. Fry the eggplant in batches (about 4 or 5 slices at a time), flipping once, until lightly browned on each side and slightly flimsy to the touch. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, adding more oil as necessary to keep a thin layer at all times. Allow the eggplant to cool enough so you can handle it. Drain any remaining oil from the pan.
4. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, thyme, and salt. On a clean work surface, spoon a scant tablespoon of the ricotta mixture onto the end of an eggplant slice. Roll it up lengthwise until sealed. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.
5. Pour the tomato sauce into the skillet so it comes up about a 1/2 inch on the sides; if using a smaller skillet, you may not need the full amount. Arrange the eggplant in the pan–they can be snug. Spoon the milk or cream over the eggplant rolls.
6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the sauce has reduced enough to form a film around the sides of the pan, and the eggplant is golden brown. Garnish with grated Parmesan and serve alongside crusty bread or pasta.