Gluten Free Eggplant Rollatini Appetizer

Bite sized Eggplant Rollatini are the perfect finger food for holidays, parties or game day!  If you are looking for a gluten free appetizer for your next get-together, give this recipe a try.  They are really tasty and different than the usual party snack.  This recipe will make 20-24.

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Ingredients:

Preparation:

Cut the top and bottom off the eggplant, stand it on its side and peel.

Slice it lengthwise into 12 strips, make them as thin and even as you can.  Trim away any heavily seeded areas.

Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet and coat lightly with olive oil.  Add the eggplant slices in one layer (do it in batches) and cook briefly on each side, enough so that they can be rolled without breaking.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

Lay the cooked slices on a sheet pan lined with paper towel, to remove some of the moisture.

Cut each slice of eggplant down the middle lengthwise to form strips.  Layer each strip with a slice of ham and cheese.

Carefully roll up the eggplant slices and place seam side down in a baking dish.  Use toothpicks to hold the bundles together.  You can make the recipe ahead to this point and refrigerate, in fact chilling the eggplant rolls at this point will make them easier to work with.

Preheat the oven to 325° and set up 2 breading trays.  In one bowl beat the egg with 1 tbsp. water.  Add the breadcrumbs to the other bowl.

Mist a clean square baking dish with cooking spray.  Using your fingers, carefully pick up one bundle at a time and dip it in the egg, shaking off the excess.  Roll in breadcrumbs and place seam side down in the clean baking pan.  Continue until all the bundles are breaded.  Be sure to remove all toothpicks before baking.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for 25 minutes.

Finish with a drizzle of your favorite BBQ sauce and serve immediately or reheat just before serving.

Notes ♪♫ Most of the ingredients in this recipe are naturally gluten free.  Be careful when purchasing cold cuts.  Look for gluten free brands like Boar’s Head and be sure that they have a dedicated slicer for gluten free products at the deli.  For the breading, I always use Aleia’s Gluten Free Italian Breadcrumbs.  They are just the best!

Originally published 12/31/2019            Updated 12/27/2023

 

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Gluten Free Eggplant Tortilla Casserole

This easy casserole dish is great for a family dinner.  If you are invited to a party or cookout and need to bring a gluten free dish, this would be a great choice.  Using canned beans and tomatoes makes it easy to put together.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced (1-1/2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • canola oil
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans (10 oz.) diced tomatoes with mild green chiles
  • 1/2 tsp. Mexican Spice Blend or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, gruyere)
  • 4 gluten free corn tortillas, cut into eighths
  • cooking spray

Preparation:

Peel and dice the eggplant.  Add 3 tbsp. canola oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the eggplant cubes and toss to coat.  Cook the eggplant until it is browned on all sides.  The eggplant absorbs oil like a sponge, so add more if needed.

Season with salt and set aside to cool.

Next, add a little more oil to the skillet and cook the onions until lightly browned.  Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds more.

Add the tomatoes with their juice and the drained beans.  Top with chopped cilantro and season to taste with Mexican Spice Blend, I used 1/2 tsp.

Toss well to combine and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated.

To assemble the casserole, coat a 9″ x 9″ baking dish with cooking spray.  Line the baking dish with half of the tortillas.

Spoon half of the tomato mixture and eggplant cubes over the tortillas and top with 1/4 cup of cheese.

Repeat with another layer of tortillas.

Top with the remaining tomatoes and eggplant and 1/4 cup cheese.

Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes at 375º.  After 30 minutes remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

My husband just loved this dish!  It would be a nice accompaniment to a Cinco de Mayo dinner.  You could also serve it as an appetizer with tortilla chips.  This makes quite a few servings, and leftovers can be frozen.

Notes: ♪♫ I used Mission brand Yellow Corn Tortillas in this recipe, they are certified gluten free.  The spice mix is my own, a blend of chipotle chile flakes, oregano, onion granules and cumin.  if you are using a purchased blend, always check for gluten containing ingredients.

 

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Gluten Free Pasta Incaciata

Pasta Incaciata.  It has long been on my culinary bucket list to make this classic Sicilian pasta dish.  Why the procrastination? Perhaps I was intimidated by all the steps.  Yes, it is a labor of love that will take time to prepare, but well worth the effort when you bring this stunning dish to the table.  Perfect for Italian Sunday Dinner!

Pasta Incaciata, loosely translated means “compressed pasta” and refers to how we press the contents into the pan to shape it for that dramatic presentation.

So, what’s it made of?  Pasta, meatballs, eggplant, tomatoes, cheese.  Ordinary ingredients perhaps, but this recipe puts them all together in a most impressive presentation!  It looks and tastes amazing!  Like a classy, sophisticated lasagna.

It took me several hours to prep the ingredients and assemble the dish, although I think that with practice I could do it faster.  To make it less overwhelming, I’m breaking the recipe down into easy steps for you to follow.  You can opt to do some of the prep in advance, or all at once if time permits.  Remember to allow for a few hours rest in the refrigerator before baking, as this helps the Pasta Incaciata to set up and hold its shape.

This dish is traditionally baked in a springform pan, but for just hubby and I, an 8” nonstick cake pan worked perfectly (although it was a little tricky flipping it over!).  If you would like to make a larger portion, you could double the sauce and eggplant, and either use a springform pan or make 2 of the 8” cake pans.

We both loved this meal and were surprised at how filling it was.  Even with this smaller version we ended up with half left over for several lunches.

4-6 servings

 

Ingredients:

Sauce

  • 28 oz. Can tomato sauce (reserve ½ cup for the meatballs)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. Basil
  • ½ tsp. Oregano
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Meatballs

  • ½ lb. Ground beef
  • ¼ lb. Gluten free Italian sausage
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup gluten free rolled oats
  • ¼ cup potato flakes
  • ¼ cup gluten free seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ¼ tsp. Gluten free Italian seasoning

Eggplant

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking spray

Pasta

  • 4 oz gluten free pasta (I used Jovial penne)

Other

  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup gluten free seasoned breadcrumbs

Preparation:

First, we’ll make an easy marinara sauce.  Heat a heavy saucepan with 1 tbsp. Olive oil.  Add the diced onions and cook, stirring frequently until they are translucent.  Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds.  Next add the tomato sauce, reserving ½ cup for the meatballs.  Stir in the sugar, basil, oregano and fresh ground pepper.  Simmer on low for ½ hour, then remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Now I can just hear you saying, can’t I cheat and use jar sauce?  Of course you can, just be sure it’s gluten free and I’ll never tell!

Next, we will make the meatballs.  Whisk together the egg, reserved ½ cup of tomato sauce and Italian seasoning.  In a separate bowl, combine the rolled oats, potato flakes and breadcrumbs.  Add the beef and sausage to the egg mixture and work it in with your hands.

When it is well combined, add the dry ingredients and continue working the mixture to distribute everything evenly.  Line a baking sheet with foil and mist with cooking spray.  Form 24 small meatballs (about 1-½ inch) and place them on the baking sheet with space in between.  Broil 3 minutes per side on high, then set them aside and cool to room temperature.  *Note that I only used one dozen meatballs in this recipe, you can freeze the rest or just save them for an easy meal or sandwiches later in the week.

For the eggplant, cut off a slice at the stem and one from the bottom so that you can stand it up on your cutting board.  Run a sharp knife down the sides to remove the skin (note: I prefer the eggplant peeled but if you like the skin just leave it on!).  Cut one small round off the top then slice the eggplant lengthwise into thin strips, about ¼” wide.

Cook the eggplant in a large skillet brushed with olive oil.  Season the slices as you cook them.  The goal here is to cook the eggplant just to where the slices are bendable, they will finish cooking in the oven. Don’t crowd the pan, cook it in batches if needed and keep the slices aside when they are done.

Finally, cook the pasta to 2 minutes less than the package directions.  I recommend Jovial Pasta for this recipe because it holds up well to boiling and baking.  After cooking, drain and rinse the pasta under cold water.

And now we are finally ready for the assembly.  Mist the baking pan generously with cooking spray.  We don’t want anything to stick.  Place the small round of eggplant in the center of the pan.  Next begin layering the largest slices around the pan, letting them drape over the rim, like this.  Save a few smaller slices to cover the top.

Whisk together 1 cup of sauce and ½ cup of ricotta cheese.  Fold in the pasta, half of the meatballs and half of the grated cheese, then spoon the mixture over the eggplant and top with more sauce (you can reserve about a cup of the sauce for serving).

Fold the eggplant slices inward, then use the smaller slices to fill in the center.  Cover with plastic wrap and gently press down on the mixture, so that it will set up in the shape of the pan.  Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese and breadcrumbs.

Mist a sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover the pan.  Don’t make it too tight, you don’t want the foil to stick.  Bake for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and bake 30 minutes more.  You should see bubbling on the sides of the pan.

Now for the unveiling.  Cover the pan with a plate and quickly flip it over!  There it is.  Rest 10 minutes before serving, garnish with basil and slice into wedges.  Serve with more sauce and grated cheese.

Friends, what a meal!  I don’t know how often I’ll make this dish, but it is truly a joy for this home cook to say that I’ve done it!  And as for being gluten free, I promise no one will even know.  You do not have to give up delicious pasta dishes on the gluten free diet, and this recipe is a true testament.

Notes ♪♫   Always check ingredient labels.  You know that your pasta and breadcrumbs must be gluten free, but did you also check the sausage?  How about that grated cheese?  I always buy a block of cheese and grate my own, so I don’t have to worry about additives.  You will also want to verify that your rolled oats are gluten free, as well as any seasoning blends.

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