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Ah Sunday, the Sunday blues. We’re all gearing up for another week of work and all that entails. Are you waking up to reduced restrictions today? I’m jealous! But at least I can go get my car washed by someone else, or do a click-and-collect from a garden centre. Part of our Sunday includes meal planning for the week ahead. So if you’re trying to find something a little different, today’s recipe is definitely for you! Delicious involtini – roasted and stuffed aubergine – makes for the perfect meal or side dish.
Mum first started making this recipe from one of Nigella’s books when we lived in Scotland. Rachel has no memory of eating it, and turns her nose up at the idea of aubergine. I used to have a similar reaction until I actually tried involtini and since then I’ve been in love with it!
We actually made involtini for Easter Sunday as a side dish with our roast leg of lamb. Before that, we’d made it just for a vegetarian dinner midweek! Now, it does require a bit of prep, and often we split it across 2-3 days to make. But if you’re at home with the kids back to school then you might feel okay just going for it all in one day!
What is involtini? Well, it’s a southern-Italian dish of thinly sliced aubergine, griddled and cooled, then wrapped around a stuffing mixture, then baked in tomato sauce and covered with cheese. To be fair, the stuffing mixture I am suggesting below differs greatly from the traditional Italian dish, tending more towards the Greek flavours of feta and oregano instead of parmesan and basil. So can I really call this an involtini? As much as vegetarian bacon is called bacon I suppose!
Devilously Delicious Involtini
4 main meals
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1½ tsp dried oregano + a pinch for the top
4 tbsp olive oil + extra for coating the aubergine and for over the top
3 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
100g bulgar wheat
350ml boiling water
50g pistachios, roughly chopped
275g feta, crumbled
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp capers
a pinch of cinnamon
Take your onion, 1 clove of garlic, and ½ a teaspoon of dried oregano, and blitz to a pulp in a food processor.
Cook this mix in a deep, large pan with a lid, using 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium heat until softened. This should take approximately 7 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and the sugar, stirring well, before covering and turning down the heat. Allow this to cook for 20 minutes, ensuring the sauce doesn’t boil – think cooking your baked beans!
Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper, and sugar if needed, before stirring again and adding 2 more tablespoons of olive oil.
Take the pan off the heat, but keep the cover on. Leave this to one side until you need it again at step 15.
Slice your aubergines into thin slices lengthways, discarding the two skin-covered slices – these are of no use to you unfortunately! You should aim to get 4-5 good slices from each aubergine.
Put oil into a bowl and, using a pastry brush, paint each side of each slice of aubergine generously.
Cook on a hot griddle until bronzed, striped on the outside, and tender inside. We actually used a George Foreman grill and cooked each batch of aubergine slices for 2-3 minutes total. If you’re using a griddle pan, aim for approx 2 minutes each side. Set them aside to completely cool.
In another bowl, combine your bulgar wheat, 1 teaspoon of oregano, and 350ml boiling water, and cover with a plate. Leave this to steep for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 190°C, and oil your ovenproof dish lightly – think lasagne dish size!
When the 30 minutes are up, drain your bulgar wheat in a seive and press down to remove excess liquid. Allow a few minutes to cool, then move to a large bowl – for an idea of size, we used the one I used for my Christmas Pudding mix!
Add about two thirds of your chpped pistachios, 200g crumbled feta, 1 minced glove of garlic, the spring onions, and your capers, all to the bowl with the bulgar wheat. Stir gently with a fork to mix.
Beat your egg with the cinnamon, and fork this into the stuffing mix too. You may find it easier to combine everything with your hands at this point!
Line up your aubergine slices with the bottom end closest to you. Dollop a spoonful of the stuffing to the bottom of the aubergine, and roll lengthways away from you. Place each roll in the ovenproof dish as you go.
Pour the sauce from step 5 over all the rolls, and top with the remaining feta, pistachios, oil and oregano.
Bake for 30 minutes. Allow 15 minutes resting time before serving
While this may seem ridiculously long for a simple recipe, the end result is delicious. I highly recommend trying this involtini if you’re looking for a vegetarian dish this week, or as a side with fish or chicken. We even had the leftover involtini for lunch the next day – heated for approximately 20 minutes in the oven again!
Have you discovered a new recipe during lockdown? Or have you made something similar to the above involtini? Let me know in the comments below!
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