Eggplant Pillows (Cuscini di Melanzane)

4

Every meal should have a substantial vegetable component, whether raw or cooked, but this does not negate our need for quality protein, nor our gastronomical desire for well-prepared meat and fish. But in the interests of true balance, Meat-free Mondays is an idea I can really get behind.

Ingredients
  • 2 medium eggplant
  • sea salt flakes and freshly-ground black pepper
  • ½ cup gluten-free flour
  • extra virgin olive oil, for shallow frying
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp raisins, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 6 anchovy fillets, chopped (opt.)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ bunch mint, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups tomato passata
  • crusty bread, basil and grated Parmesan, to serve
Instructions

1 Slice the eggplants in fine strips lengthways, then season with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over a moderate heat, then fry the eggplant in batches, until golden. Drain on kitchen paper then set aside.

2 Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, raisins, pine nuts, anchovies (if using), yolks and herbs in a large bowl with the lemon juice and beat until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

3 Working in batches, arrange the eggplant slices on a board, then top with a spoon of the cheese mixture and fold over to enclose, creating pillows.

4 Pour the oil out of the skillet, then arrange the eggplant pillows in it. Pour in the passata, then set over a low heat and fit the lid. Cook for 10 minutes, then serve with crusty bread, basil and grated Parmesan.