My love for eggplant runs deep. From it’s subtle bitter taste right down to the midnight color of its skin, eggplant calls out to me. We eat it at least once a week in the summer when I can get it straight from a farmer. Eggplant has such a subtle flavor that it makes a great base to showcase other flavors. Such it is with these pretty little eggplant wraps. These look fancy and complicated, but are in fact not! They’ll bring a tasty wow factor to any gathering. The proportions given below will make about 15-20 rolls.
1 eggplant, try to find one that’s pretty straight, not curvy
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup goat cheese, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I like parsley and thyme)
Salt and pepper
1 package chives, washed
Wash and dry the eggplant. Cut off the stem end. Slice lengthwise into thin slices, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Lay each slice flat on the cutting board. Cut 1″ from both skin sides of the slice. This will make 3 pieces, 2 of which will be 1″ wide with pretty eggplant skin on one side. (Reserve the skinless middle piece for a bonus treat.) Place the eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Let rest in sink or over a stack of paper towels for 30 minutes. Salting eggplant removes some of the bitter taste, prevents browning, and makes the slices easier to handle.
Move a rack to the top position in the oven. Preheat the broiler. Rinse eggplant slices under cool water to remove salt and then pat each slice to dry with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Brush each slice of eggplant with oil and arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet (it will probably take a couple of batches). Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil for 2 minutes, then flip each slice and broil for 2 more minutes. The eggplant should be soft but not mushy and falling apart.
Combine goat cheese, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Lay out one slice of eggplant. Smear about a teaspoon of cheese mixture on the slice making sure to leave a dab on both ends (this will serve as ‘glue’ to hold the roll together). Roll up the eggplant slice lengthwise into a roll. Gently lift the roll up and place a chive under the roll in the middle. Tie chive once around roll and stand roll up on serving platter. Repeat with all eggplant slices. For presentation, smear a little tomato sauce on serving platter before plating rolls. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.
For a tasty side dish or treat for the hostess, oil and broil the reserved skinless slices of eggplant as above. Layer with cheese mixture, top with a chive or two, and eat immediately. OR treat the whole eggplant this way and serve as an artful side dish or first course at a dinner. Any way you prepare it, softened eggplant, goat cheese, and fresh herbs are delicious.