Baked Eggplant Rolls with a Tomato Basil Sauce

This meal was BEAUTIFUL! The sauce, the filling and everything about it was delicious.

I made this dish last week as an entree and I have to say, it was a delight to eat. I even  went back for seconds and that was after I’d consumed a slow-cooked chicken dish and a ramekin of rhubarb and apple crumble! Greedy, much?! 🙂

The dish takes a little bit of time to prepare but it really is worth it. I added a small amount of crumbled cow’s feta into the ricotta mixture and bit more on top with some basil as a garnish. Enjoy!

Egg-plant

Baked Eggplant Rolls with a Tomato Basil Sauce
Serves 4

  • 2 fresh eggplant, trimmed, sliced lengthwise into 6
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 800 g whole tomato canned in tomato juice, chopped
  • 2 tbs fresh basil, torn
  • 1 zucchini, finely diced
  • 150 g reduced-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbs fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 tbs grated parmesan cheese, chopped
  • 1 small egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • Oil spray

Preheat oven to 230 degrees. Spray a baking tray with oil and set aside.

Lay eggplant in a single layer on prepared baking tray and spray with oil. Bake for 20 minutes, turning once or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

To make filling, spray a large non-stick frying pan with oil and place over medium-high heat. Add onion and zucchini and cook for 5 minutes, or until onion starts to soften. Add 1 clove garlic and cook for a further minute. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile combine ricotta, parsley, basil and 2 tablespoons parmesan in a seperate bowl. Stir to combine. Add the cooled onion mixture to ricotta mixture, then add egg and season well with salt and pepper.

To make sauce, place the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add remaining garlic and saute for 2 minutes, or until light brown. Add crushed tomatoes and stir to combine then reduce heat to low. Add basil and season well with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes then remove from heat and set aside.

To make eggplant rolls, reduce oven temperature to 210 degrees. Spoon 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce into the base of a 20 cm square ceramic baking dish. On a clean chopping board place a slice of eggplant. Spoon 2 tablespoons of ricotta filling at narrow end and roll up. Place in prepared baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices.

Arrange rolls in a single layer in dish. Spoon over remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and cheese has melted. Garnish with chopped basil and a sprinkling of feta. Enjoy.

These can be made a day ahead of time and stored in an airtight continer in the fridge. They are best reheated in a moderate oven for 15 – 20 minutes, though I didn’t have any left for the next day to reheat!

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Mum’s Cheese Ball

It’s been a while, but I’m back. Sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging. Especially food blogging!

If you were to think of one food that your family absolutely loves and devours almost the instant it hits the table – what would it be? For me, it’d be this dish. A simple but sophisticated bowl of cheese ball.

How long has this recipe been around? God only knows. There is no arguing this recipe is decades old. It is from my Mum’s collection of dishes she usually makes for a dinner guests, probably more so in the nineties. It is the ultimate crowd pleaser recipe. The recipe I remember, as a child, dinner guests not leaving without.

It is rather an odd mix of ingredients that make it what it is. Unlike traditional cheese ball recipes, this one doesn’t end up in a ball, rolled in sesame seeds or nuts. I personally think this makes it even easier to eat and tastes great with crackers, crostini or carrot sticks.

Mum’s Cheese Ball

  • 250 grams cream cheese
  • 1 cup cheese, grated
  • 2-3 gherkins
  • 2 tbsps tomato sauce
  • 1 onion
  • 1/4 cup parsley (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds or chopped walnuts

In a food processor, mix together the gherkins and the onion and blend until very small. Add the cream cheese, cheese, and tomato sauce. Add some parsley if you wish. Pour mixture into a bowl and sprinkle some sesame seeds or chopped nuts over the top. Cover with gladwrap and refrigerate until required. I find if this dish is left overnight the flavours really develop! Enjoy.

Feta and Paprika Cheese Straws

It is fair to say, I love a good dip. Cheese ball, hummus, salsa, pesto, or just the well-known kiwi onion dip. Yip, dip rocks! Needless to say I’m often on the lookout for things to dip in dip.

From memory, they were big in New Zealand in the seventies, being cheap and relatively easy to make. I came across this recipe in the one of the midweek papers a couple of weeks ago. To be honest, at the time, I was more caught drooling over the plum sauce recipe than the straws but since I am very much plum-less…I had to make do.

A word of warning – these are very addictive! Pair them with some homemade plum sauce and you’ll have yourself a rather attractive looking snack! They’re best eaten warm from the oven, but if you need to make them ahead, leave them to crisp up in a cool oven before removing to an air-tight container – they’re less likely to soften.

Feta and Paprika Cheese Straws

  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 60 grams butter, diced
  • 1/2 a cup grated cheese
  • 1/2 a cup feta cheese, crumbled

To make the cheese straws, preheat your oven to approx 190 degrees. Grease an oven tray. Sift the flour and paprika into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. I found I had to add a little more water to the mix at this stage as it seemed a little dry! Stir in both the grated cheese and the crumbled feta cheese.

Next, lightly beat the egg and add to the mixture. Stir until a dough is formed and then roll out on a floured surface. You want to make sure the dough is roughly 5mm thick before slicing into strips. I  found a pizza cutter (if you have one!) was ideal for this part.

Transfer the strips onto a cooked tray lined with paper. Lightly brush with a bit of milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Bake for around 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack and store in an air tight container.

This recipe makes approximately 16 straws.

The South Island Cheese Roll

No, I am not a South Islander but yes I do love their cheese rolls. In the last few months I’ve read a number of things about the famous southland cheese roll so I decided to jump on the bandwagon! If you know the cheese roll from your childhood – welcome back!

A cheese roll is fairly basic. So basic, it is hardly worthy of its own blog post but I figure because I love a good cheese roll and this blog is all about sharing my favourite recipes with you…why not!

For the people that are not quite so familiar with this tasty treat – a cheese roll is created by covering a slice of bread in a filling consisting of grated cheese, and then rolling it into a tube shape before toasting in an oven. Easy. However it is more about what you add to the cheese that counts here and can sure enough make or break.

Though ingredients typically include onion, Worcestershire sauce and onion soup mix, other fillings such as crushed pineapple or sweet corn can be just as delicious! This filling mixture is prepared separately before being added to the bread, rather than the filling simply being a slice of cheese covered with any other ingredients – like the beloved mouse trap!

Cheese rolls are a very popular food in Otago and Southland and are found at cafes and other foodie outlets. Sadly, toasted cheese rolls are virtually unknown in the North Island! Booooo! I decided this recipe is about sharing the cheese roll love across the North Island of New Zealand. Get your cheese roll fix. Enjoy!

The Southland Cheese Roll

  • 1 loaf of wholegrain sandwich bread
  • 1 can of reduced cream
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 Maggi onion soup mix
  • 300 grams of cheese

This recipe has to be the easiest recipe in my entire recipe book! Mix together the can of reduced cream (a few recipes I’ve discovered recently have used evaporated milk but I prefer the thickness of the reduced cream), diced onion, cheese, and the onion soup mix until really well combined.

Spread margarine on one side of each slice of bread, turnover. Spoon a small dollop of cheese mixture onto each slice of bread. Roll into a tube and place on the baking tray. You should end up with about 25 tubes all lined up on your baking tray.

Bake the rolls at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes. This may take a little longer depending on your oven. Gently turn rolls over and bake on the other side for about 20 minutes more.

I like my toasted rolls to be bite-sized so I generally wait until they have cooled down sufficiently until I go ahead and slice each roll in half. These are pretty damn good straight out of a hot oven but are delicious cold as well. They go down perfectly with a mug of hot soup for dinner or at a work morning tea  – so versatile!

Note: If you like a bit of bite, you can add a teaspoon of dry mustard to the cheese mixture. This adds a small amount of zzzzing!