Eggplant Rollatini with Tomato-Mint Sauce
Preheat your grill or broiler. Trim both ends of the eggplant. Slice lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. You should have about sixteen slices total. Rub both sides with oil and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay on grill, cooking for approximately 6 minutes. Turn over to finish the other side, an additional 3-4 minutes. The eggplant should be soft and pliable but not falling apart. If you are using your broiler, place eggplant on foil lined cookie sheet and set under broiler, watching carefully to prevent burning. Turn when the tops soften and begin to brown. Cook other side in the same method. Cool eggplant strips.
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 pounds fresh, tender spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup pitted imported dry-cured black olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup smoked mozzarella, shredded
6 ripe plum tomatoes
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Meanwhile, rehydrate raisins by soaking in Balsamic vinegar and 2 T hot water. Rinse spinach, leaving water on the leaves and place in a deep pot with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, covered over medium heat. Cook until spinach wilts, approximately 10 minutes, then drain. Heat heavy bottomed saute pan over medium heat for 20-30 seconds before adding remaining 1/3 cup oil. When oil begins to ripple, add the wilted spinach and quickly shake the pan for about 2 minutes tossing the spinach to mix. Add raisins and their liquid to saute pan and stir well to mix with the spinach.
Remove from heat, adding olives and mozzarella after mixture cools. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. This mixture may exude water so it is best to place in a colander overnight in the refrigerator with a bowl underneath to catch any liquid. An hour before packing, fill the eggplant by placing a small amount of spinach mixture in the center of each strip and bringing both ends of the eggplant over the stuffing, place seam side down. Place in a container, drizzle with a little of your favorite fruity olive oil and secure with a tight fitting lid.
To make sauce, chop tomatoes into 1/4 inch pieces. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. This is best made overnight to allow flavors to blend.
Note: This can be done the day before with the exception of the final step of filling and rolling the eggplant slices. I'd leave that for completing about an hour before the picnic is packed in your cooler. If you do not have access to a grill, feel free to broil the eggplant slices. They will not impart a rich, smokey flavor as if grilled but will still taste fresh and delicious.
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