Involtini di Melanzane

This entry is filed under Vegetarian Recipes.


A taste of Italy

The English translation for this tasty little number is ‘stuffed aubergine rolls’ which is pretty unappealing and therefore unlikely to stir your desire into trying it. But try it you must, (if you haven’t done so already) because Involtini is both delicious and cheap, making it perfect for anyone on a budget (which probably accounts for most of us after December’s blow out).

Sadly it’s not my invention. I’ve adapted the recipe from ‘Nigella Bites’, who in turn adapted it from ‘Secrets from An Italian Kitchen’, who probably adapted it from their Italian great grandmother! Whatever the case this substantial supper dish is well worth making whether you’re vegetarian or carnivore.

There are 3 stages to it, but don’t panic, none are difficult and the end result is definitely worth the effort. It takes around an hour to prep and cook, so you might want to save it for the weekend.  To save time, I sometimes make up double the quantity then either freeze half or keep it in the fridge to be enjoyed hot or cold later in the week.

Serving Size: 4 big portions
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes + 10 minutes resting
Effort Level: Some effort
Shelf Life: 3 days in the fridge. 4 weeks in freezer

4 aubergine
2 tbsp olive oil
Couscous Filling
200g block feta cheese
a good handful of fresh basil
50g pine nuts
100g pitted olives
4 cloves garlic
2 spring onions
½ tsp chilli flakes
150g cous   cous
200ml boiling water
Tomato Sauce
400g chopped tomatoes
500ml sieved passata
4 fat cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Griddle Pan or Roasting Tin
Pastry Brush
Medium Saucepan 
Oven Dish ( Approx 23 Cm X 28 Cm)
Food Processor

N.B: Choosing Aubergine:  Look for deep purple-to-black skin and apply pressure with your fingertips. If it doesn’t leave an imprint, the flesh is fresh and firm.

Here’s What You Do
Step One: Half fill a kettle with water and put on to boil. Measure 150g couscous into a large bowl then pour on 200ml boiling water and leave to swell for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Finely chop the garlic and fry gently in 2 tbsp olive oil over a medium heat for one minute. Add 1 can of chopped tomatoes,  500ml sieved passata, 1 tsp oregano, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt and a generous grinding of black pepper then leave to simmer for  5 minutes.

Step Two: Preheat the oven to 220C/ 425F/Gas 7.
If like me you don’t have a griddle pan,  slide the roasting tin onto the top oven shelf to get hot. Otherwise, place the griddle pan over a medium heat (without any oil) until it’s baking hot.

Meanwhile, slice the aubergines lengthways  approx ½ cm thick, discard the outer slices as they’re mainly skin. Brush each slice generously with olive oil and either cook on the griddle for 1 minute each side or arrange in the roasting tin and bake for 5-10 minutes each side or until golden then put aside. Next, lightly oil an oven proof dish.

Step Three: Roughly dice half the feta, (reserve the other half) and tip into the food processor. Roughly chop the spring onions and tip into the processor, add a handful of basil leaves, 4 garlic cloves, 50g pine nuts, ½ tsp chilli flakes, and 100g black olives. Pulse briefly until fairly finely chopped.  Break up the couscous with a fork then add to the mix and pulse 2 – 3 more times, just enough to combine everything together until it resembles large breadcrumbs – any longer and it’ll turn into a paste.

Take one slice of cooked aubergine at a time and lay out flat. Spread a spoonful of couscous stuffing evenly over the surface and gently roll up towards you making sure you don’t lose any stuffing. Place in the ovenproof dish and continue stuffing and rolling until all the slices fit snugly in the dish. Cover with the prepared tomato sauce and grate the remaining feta cheese over the top.

Place on the middle oven shelf and cook for 20 minutes. Take out the oven and rest for 10 minutes. Serve with a crisp green salad.

5 Responses to “Involtini di Melanzane”

  1. Uma says:

    Thanks Nick. I promise it t tastes as good as it looks.

  2. Nick Stroude says:

    Wow! That looks fab-u-lous. Must try it. Very many thanks, Nick.

  3. Celena says:

    It looks totally yummy.

  4. Uma says:

    You’re welcome Rita. I know what you mean December’s always a bit of a meat fest in this house and by January my digestion needs rest!

  5. Rita says:

    Thanks for the inspiration Uma 🙂
    It couldn’t have come at a better time. John and I are going veggie for all of January, partly to stop us consuming anymore wine (some hope!!) which would be an impossiblity if we were eating meat. If I can get some nice aubergine I’ll make it Friday and let you know the outcome.
    Rita x

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