What’s Cooking: Eggplant rollatini

SOUTH BOSTON (WHDH) — In this week’s “What’s Cooking,” 7’s Sarah French visited the new restaurant La Motta’s Italian Specialties in the South End, where Chef Justin Winters is cooking up Italian classics.

“We are your nostalgic red sauce joint from the 50s and 60s,” said Winters, who learned how to cook from his Italian-American mother, who is also a chef.

For his eggplant rollatini dish, Winters said he starts out with smaller eggplants, because they have less seeds. The eggplant is peeled, then sliced thin before the pieces are salted.

The eggplant is added to a large frying pan with oil and both sides are cooked until the edges get golden brown. Winters said this takes about three to four minutes on each side.

While the eggplant drains on paper towels, Winters spoons a Ricotta cheese mixture on the eggplant slices. The mixture is Ricotta cheese combined with herbs, a beaten egg and Parmesan cheese. The eggplant slices are rolled up and baked before they are plated on a bed of tomato-braised cabbage. Winters said to bake the eggplant for about 30 minutes at 350 to 400 degrees.

The eggplant rollatini is topped with pesto, cheese and fried basil.


La Motta’s Eggplant Rollatini

Serves 2-4 people



  • 3 pounds eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Kosher salt
  • Oil for frying


  1. First peel the eggplant and slice it lengthwise ¼ in think.
  2. Generously salt the eggplant slices and then place them on a wire rack over a baking sheet for about an hour, up to 4 hr. This is to allow the salt to pull some of the moisture from the eggplant.
  3. Once the hour is up you can lightly rinse the eggplant and then pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Fill a large cast iron skillet with 1/2 inch oil and heat over high heat until shimmering.
  5. Working in batches, fry eggplant slices, turning, until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer fried eggplant to a paper-towel lined baking sheet.
  7. Repeat with remaining eggplant, topping up oil as needed.
  8. You should not need to season the eggplant again.



  • 2 lb Ricotta
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 c grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 c chopped parsley
  • 1/4 c chopped Sage


  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate until needed.



  • 6 leaves basil
  • ¼ c evoo
  • ½ c onion, small diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 32 oz San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed
  • Sea Salt


  1. Fry the basil in the evoo in a large stainless steel pot or rondo
  2. Once the basil is crisp and translucent, remove.
  3. Add the onions and garlic to the evoo and cook on low until they are translucent ~6-10min.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1hour on low, stirring frequently.
  5. Season the sauce and cool.



  • 1 hd green cabbage, thin sliced
  • ½ onion, thin sliced
  • 32 oz San marzano tomatoe Sauce from previous recipe, hand crushed**
  • this may vary depending on the size of your head of cabbage
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • Evoo
  • salt


  1. In a large pot sweat out the sliced onion until translucent
  2. Add the sliced cabbage and pinch of salt. Sweat the cabbage until it is about 50% cooked. The edges will start to become translucent.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and the heavy cream and simmer on medium until the cabbage is nice and thick.
  4. Remove from the heat and then cool.

For the Eggplant Rolatini:

This can be made in your standard baking dish or an oven proof vessel

  1. First you need to layer the cabbage on the bottom (this item can be omitted)
  2. Lay the eggplant slices out on a baking sheet and place a dollop ( 1 T) of the filling on one side and then roll. Repeat to all the eggplant slices.
  3. Take the eggplant rolls and place them on the bed of cabbage about ¼ in apart, across the entire pan.
  4. Top the eggplant with a light coating of tomato sauce and tom with more Parmigianno Reggiano cheese.
  5. Bake the eggplant @350 for 30-40 min. If you like extra cheese, add more and place under the broiler until golden brown.
  6. ENJOY!

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