For the tomato sauce:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 small chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1 can Italian crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
- A few leaves of basil, torn
For the roll-ups:
- 2 medium-large firm eggplant, very thinly sliced lengthwise
- About 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 large clove garlic, crushed
- 1 pound fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 egg yolk
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- A small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 pound sliced spicy capicola ham
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella or smoked mozzarella, thinly sliced
Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
For the sauce, heat the EVOO, two turns of the pan, in a medium size saucepot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the EVOO is hot, add the onion, chili pepper, garlic, bay leaf, oregano or marjoram, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper. Cook until softened, then add the tomato paste, stir for a minute more, then add the stock, crushed tomatoes and basil and simmer over low heat to thicken a little and combine the flavors.
Meanwhile, pre-heat a cast iron grill pan or the broiler.
Lightly salt and drain the eggplant on paper towels. Heat an inch of EVOO in a small pot over medium heat with garlic to infuse it, then brush the eggplant planks with the EVOO. Grill or broil the eggplant in batches, a few minutes on each side, until they're charred and very tender. Let cool to handle.
In a small bowl, mix the ricotta cheese with the egg yolk, nutmeg, Parmigiano Reggiano and parsley. Pour half of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a baking dish.
On each plank of eggplant, arrange two thin slices of capicola ham, then spread with the ricotta cheese mixture. Roll them up and set them into the baking dish. Top with the remaining sauce and place a slice of fresh mozzarella over each roll-up. Bake for 30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.
Serve with green salad or sautéed kale alongside.
This is one of many "Yum-o!" recipes – it's good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael's nonprofit organization, go to www.yum-o.org.