Craving Lasagna but don’t want the carbs or dairy? These Italian Eggplant Rolls will totally fix that! Tender eggplant “noodles” layered and wrapped with seasoned ground turkey, then baked with sweet and tangy marinara. Definitely a pleaser for any Mediterranean foodie.
Every time I make a client or a friend a dish with eggplant in it, I get asked how to make the eggplant taste so good. The trick is to salt it in between layers of paper towels for about an hour. This pulls out the bitterness and excess liquids so that it cooks up more like fabulously textured pasta and less like a watery soggy bittery yucky thingy. Be sure to note that when you use this method to pull the bitter moisture out that you’ve already increased the salt factor of the dish, so you will need to add less (or even zero) extra salt to the rest of the recipe.
To get your eggplant noodles nice and thin, I recommend a high-quality and well maintained (aka SHARP!) chef’s knife. You can also use a mandolin slicer, but just be sure to use the guard that comes with it to keep your phalanges intact.
For a nightshade-free version, you can replace the marinara with either a nomato sauce, or a cashew alfredo sauce (made with this here super fast and easy cashew milk recipe) with some garlic and nutritional yeast added for cheesiness. Then substitute the eggplant with zucchini or summer squash slices!
These would also be delicious made with southwest spices and a mole sauce for enchilada style eggplant rolls. Try it with other ground meats such as beef, pork or chicken. Experiment and see what flavors work best for you. Get creative in the kitchen and have fun with your ingredients!
- EGGPLANT NOODLES
- 1 large eggplant
- Himalayan salt
- MEAT MIXTURE
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 Tb basil, dried
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
- 1/4 cup green onions
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper -or- black pepper to taste
- 1 Tb olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 24 oz jar marinara, no sugar added (homemade or store-bought both work fine)
- 1 sweet bell pepper (optional for topping)
- Slice the eggplant thinly, so that is rolls easily. Use a sharp, high-quality chef's knife or a mandolin with a good guard.
- In a medium mixing bowl, lay down a paper towel and sprinkle a little bit of salt. Then lay down a few slices of eggplant, and salt the tops of those as well. Lay down another paper towel and repeat the process until you have used all of the eggplant slices. Finish with another paper towel on top ad set aside for about an hour to allow moisture and bitterness to be drawn out of the eggplant.
- Meanwhile, make the MEAT MIXTURE in a separate bowl by mixing it all together. Use a Mix N Chop in a twisting motion if you want to keep your hands clean.
- Grease the 9 x 13 baking dish with 1 Tb olive oil.
- Remove towels from eggplant, and shake off any excess salt.
- Heat oven to 375 F.
- Lay down a slice of eggplant, and spread about 1/4 cup or so of meat mixture evenly fairly across the surface. I like to use a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop to keep my hands from getting raw turkey all over them.
- Roll it up using gentle pressure so that it holds together, but not so hard that the eggplant may snap.
- Lay the roll seam-side down, and repeat with the remaining mixture and eggplant slices until you have used it all up.
- If you have any extra meat, you can scoop a few small meatballs along the edges of the dish…and if you have extra eggplant, you can use them to line the sides of the dish. (Or freeze for another day.)
- Drizzle the tops of the rolls with a little more olive oil, then evenly pour marinara over the tops of the rolls.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until eggplant has become tender and the dish is bubbling.
- Allow to cool for about 20 minutes, then serve.
- Slice rolls diagonally if desired and serve standing up for an elegant presentation if you want!
- This is also delicious made nightshade free! Try it with zucchini in place of the eggplant, and a cashew alfredo sauce in place of the tomato sauce, and omit the bell pepper topping.