This Crispy Baked Eggplant Rollatini Skillet is a bubbling one-pot Italian dinner that cooks and bakes right in a cast iron skillet. It's oozing with three different cheeses (mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan), with crispy slices of thinly fried eggplant that get nestled into a quick tomato sauce.Jump to Recipe
I’m so excited for this recipe. It’s inspired by the classic Italian dish Eggplant Rollatini, but with a twist. Each component in it is so delicious. From the crispy golden brown slices of eggplant to the tart tomato sauce and warm ricotta. The whole thing comes out oozing and bubbly!
This dish is warm, comforting, and I’ve really simplified it so that it’s approachable. The flavors are all familiar – but come together just a bit easier in this one pot recipe.
Thin and crispy is, in my opinion, the best way to have eggplant! Only because it’s my favorite though. The eggplant even manages to hold up and stay crispy after baking.
The overall recipe looks like this: First, the eggplant gets fried in your cast iron, next the sauce gets made right in that same skillet with the pan drippings and everything, then the fried eggplant, ricotta filling, mozzarella, and parmesan all get assembled in the cast iron pan before baking in the oven. Lastly, finish it all off with some fresh basil and an extra drizzle of olive oil.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA AND EGGPLANT ROLLATINI
If you’ve never heard of Eggplant Rollatini, it’s a classic Italian dish that did in fact originate in Italy (not America like chicken parmigiana). Its flavors are mostly similar to eggplant parmigiana, but has some differences.
Parmigiana has thin layers of slices of eggplant, mozzarella & parmesan, and tomato sauce. You then repeat these layers over and over until you reach the top of the dish.
While rollatini on the other hand stuffs thin slices of fried eggplant with a ricotta filling. Then, the rolls sit next to each other and the whole thing gets covered in sauce and mozzarella.
Aside from the rolling, two other major differences between eggplant rollatini and eggplant parmigiana are that eggplant parmigiana does not use ricotta and eggplant rollatini does not get layered, the rolls do not get stacked.
If you imagined that rolling each slice of fried eggplant is super time-consuming, you’d be right. That’s why Italian grandmothers are the best though – they’ll painstakingly cook these labor-intensive meals, just so you can eat it!
But if you’re not an Italian grandmother, you probably don’t have time to do that. I wanted a way to still have these flavors, but to make them more readily accessible. That being said, you caught me. We’re not actually rolling anything.
Instead, this recipe is more like a deconstructed skillet of eggplant rollatini...it’s all for the warm oozing ricotta filling, trust me.
EGGPLANT ROLLATINI COOKING TIPS
I grew up layering eggplant parmigiana with grandmas or aunts or my mom, and there are a few lessons that still apply here:
- “Not too much” – Spoken straight from Italian grandmothers everywhere. The perfect ratio of cheese, sauce, and eggplant is vital to making the multiple thin layers of parmigiana. Not any one ingredient should overpower the other. Here we only have two layers, but still, the ratio is important.
- Tag team cooking – Making these kinds of multiple-step recipes where you’re cooking a few ingredients at once is always easier with two people. One person can bread eggplant slices while the other fries them. This recipe cuts down on a few steps to make things simpler, but I’ll always welcome help in the kitchen!
- To make this recipe even more weeknight-friendly, you can fry the eggplant ahead of time and save them in Tupperware. You can also bake the eggplant slices; I’ve included these directions below.
- Prep your ingredients - I know it's tempting to just get going, but with these kinds of dishes it's way more helpful and less stressful to have everything in place when you need it. Have the ricotta filling ready, your dredging station set up with one batch of eggplant ready to be fried, have your garlic minced, and your mozzarella shredded before you get going.
LET’S MAKE THIS RECIPE
Before we start, I just want to make it clear that this dinner starts on the stove and finishes in the oven, all with just one pan. It’s great because it saves you time on cleanup of what would have been three dishes!
So be sure to use a pan that can transfer to your oven. If you don’t have an oven-safe pan, you can follow all the directions the same and then just layer this all in a casserole dish. Use the widest one you have so you can have thin layers, not deep ones.
COOK THE EGGPLANT
To make this Crispy Baked Eggplant Rollatini Skillet, you’ll first prepare the eggplant by peeling most of the skin off. Then slice it into thin rounds (thin enough that they can’t get cut in half again).
Lay them flat on a paper towel and don’t stack them. You’ll want a single layer of eggplant slices – this usually takes up one whole counter for me! Eggplant contains a lot of moisture, and this helps to collect the excess water.
Next, you’ll prepare the dredge. In one shallow bowl, pour in the Italian breadcrumbs. And in another separate bowl, whisk together two eggs.
To dredge the eggplant, take the slices of eggplant one by one and wet both sides in the beaten eggs, then coat evenly in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all the eggplant, dredging it in batches while you cook.
To cook the eggplant, heat a cast iron skillet or another oven-proof pan over medium heat and add in olive oil. Then in the hot pan, we fry the eggplant for 2 minutes per side or until they brown. This is when help from an additional person is always nice!
These drain on some more paper towels and get set aside for later. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices, adding the rest of the olive oil when needed.
RICOTTA FILLING & TOMATO SAUCE
The ricotta filling gets mixed together with the ricotta, fresh parsley, grated parmesan, shredded mozzarella, and a pinch of salt & black pepper.
Next, the tomato sauce gets made right in the pan used to fry the eggplant slices. First, the minced garlic sautes until its fragrant before adding in the can of tomato sauce. Season it all with the dried oregano, dried, basil, dried parsley, and garlic powder. Stir it all together and simmer on low for 10 minutes. That’s all it takes to make this super easy sauce. It will then further cook and deepen in flavor in the oven.
ASSEMBLE & BAKE
Once the sauce is finished on the stove, take the breaded eggplant slices, and arrange half of them right into the sauce. Then, take your ricotta filling and with a spoon, just add a few small dollops of the filling all around. Layer the rest of the eggplant on top, cover as much as you can with the sauce. Add more of the ricotta filling around this layer too. Cover with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
The skillet then bakes for 20 minutes and finishes off by broiling on high (at 500) for 5 minutes. This high temperature will start to get the cheese even more bubbly and a little browned. Keep a close eye on it though, your oven may vary and cook this quicker.
Alternative: Though this dish is already light, for an even lighter take that also makes it more weeknight-friendly, you can choose to instead bake your eggplant slices instead of frying them. All you need for that is a sheet pan and some aluminum foil. Line the slices onto a prepared baking sheet (don’t stack) and bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Before putting your sheet in the oven, spray the slices with some cooking spray.
And yet another alternative: Using chicken cutlets in place of eggplant is actually another traditional Italian dish known as Chicken Involtini. Even though I have never tried it, much of the directions would stay the same.
Tomato Sauce – This recipe shows you how you can make a quick sauce without hours of cooking down tomatoes. Seriously, it’s not necessary for cans of tomato sauce that are already smooth. So, definitely make sure your cans say “tomato sauce” not whole tomatoes or chunky. It’s okay if they’re crushed tomatoes. This will ensure it doesn’t need to cook down. You can also use high-quality jarred tomato sauce or marinara sauce if you’d like. Use it as a substitute in place of the tomato cans.
Italian breadcrumbs – To bread the eggplant use breadcrumbs that are seasoned with Italian seasoning. If you only have plain breadcrumbs, you can add garlic powder and dried parsley to it. You can also substitute Panko breadcrumbs, but the flavor and texture will be different.
Eggplant – fresh eggplants in this dish are the star, so make sure you pick a good one that is medium size, has shiny skins, and doesn’t have any brown spots on the outside
Mozzarella – This recipe calls for regular skim shredded mozzarella, but to take it up another notch you can use fresh mozzarella.
Ricotta – You’ll need a 15 ounce container. I used skim, but you may also use whole.
SERVING THIS CRISPY BAKED EGGPLANT ROLLATINI SKILLET
This skillet is a perfect main course at dinner. It's deceptively hearty and filling – so don’t be fooled that it's vegetarian. Eggplant is a meaty vegetable, similar to mushrooms. If you’re making this for two, you may even have leftovers. You can serve garlic bread, a typical house salad, dressed greens, or even pasta as a side dish.
This skillet has 6 servings and each serving contains 438 calories, 17 grams protein, 29 grams carbs, and 30 grams fat.
Storing and reheating
To store this skillet for any leftovers, you can add it to an airtight container. It will keep for 3-5 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave.
AS ALWAYS, IF YOU MAKE THIS – PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!
Crispy Baked Eggplant Rollatini Skillet
- 1 eggplant
- 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup olive oil
RICOTTA FILLING & TOPPING
- 15 oz skim ricotta
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley minced
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese + 1 tbsp for topping
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella + ¼ cup for topping
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh basil
- 5 garlic cloves
- 27 oz tomato sauce
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp garlic powder
Prepare the eggplant: Peel most of the skin off the eggplant. Slice the eggplant into ¼” thin rounds and lay flat on paper towels to drain moisture. Try to not stack the slices.
Prepare the dredge: Take two shallow bowls and in one, pour in the Italian breadcrumbs. In the other, whisk together the two eggs.
To dredge the eggplant, first wet both sides in the eggs, then coat evenly in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all the eggplant, dredging it in batches while you cook.
Cook the eggplant: Heat a cast iron skillet or another oven proof pan on medium heat and add half of the olive oil. When it’s thoroughly heated, add the eggplant to the pan. They should be sizzling. Cook about 2 minutes per side or until browned.
Remove the whole batch of eggplant slices and drain them on a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside for later. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices. Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan when needed and heat through.
Make the ricotta filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, fresh parsley, ¼ cup grated parmesan, ½ cup shredded mozzarella, and a pinch of salt & pepper.
Make the sauce: Preheat the oven to 375. Keep the heat on medium after all the eggplant is cooked and add the minced garlic cloves. If the pan is dry, add a drizzle of olive oil. Just after the garlic becomes fragrant, add in the can of tomato sauce.
Season the sauce with the dried oregano, dried, basil, dried parsley, and garlic powder. Stir it all together and simmer on low for 10 minutes.
Assemble the skillet: Once the sauce is finished, arrange half of the eggplant slices into the pan, nestling them right into the sauce. Take your ricotta filling and with a spoon, just add a few small dollops of the filling all around. Layer the rest of the eggplant on top, cover as much as you can with the sauce. Add more of the ricotta filling around this layer too. Cover with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
Bake the skillet for 20 minutes and finish it off by broiling on high (at 500) for 5 minutes.
You can finish off the skillet with a drizzle of olive oil and by tearing fresh basil over top
SHARE YOUR COOKING WITH ME!
If you make this recipe or any others on Bite your Cravings, I’d love to see and feature your delicious creations on my Instagram page! Post your recipes and tag @biteyourcravings so I can see them!