Eggplant Involtini with Grilled Ratatouille

Faux cheeses made with nuts are key to vegan cooking. To stuff these involtini, chef Sean Baker of Gather in Berkeley re-creates the flavor of ricotta by combining pureed raw cashews with nutritional yeast, which has a very savory, almost cheese-like flavor and is available at well-stocked specialty and natural food stores.


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  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6

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  • 2 cups raw cashews (10 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Two 1-pound eggplants, sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • 1 pound tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 medium red onions, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
  • 4 Italian frying peppers
  • 1 eggplant (1 pound), sliced crosswise 1 inch thick
  • 2 small zucchini (1 pound), halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup shredded basil
  • Harissa, for serving

How to make this recipe

  1. In a food processor, combine the cashews with the nutritional yeast and water and process to a fine paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl, stir in the olives and season with salt and pepper.

  2. Light a grill. Brush the eggplant slices (there should be about 24) with olive oil and grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until tender and lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes. Arrange the eggplant on a work surface and season with salt and pepper. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the cashew filling onto one end of each eggplant slice. Roll into tight cylinders. Cover with plastic wrap.

  3. Brush all of the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables in batches until tender and lightly charred, about 3 minutes for the tomatoes and 6 minutes for the onions, peppers, eggplant and zucchini. Transfer the grilled tomatoes to a blender and puree until smooth.

  4. Peel, seed and dice the peppers and chop the onions. Add them to a large deep skillet along with the 2 tablespoons of oil and the garlic, bay leaf, thyme and oregano. Cook over moderately high heat until tender, 5 minutes. Add the wine and boil until evaporated, 2 minutes. Add the tomato puree and water, season with salt and pepper and simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced, 15 minutes. Cut the eggplant and zucchini into 1/2-inch pieces; add to the skillet. Simmer 10 minutes longer. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the basil.

  5. Spoon the ratatouille into shallow bowls and top with the involtini. Spoon a dollop of harissa on top and serve right away.

Make Ahead

The involtini and ratatouille can be refrigerated separately for up to 2 days.

Suggested Pairing

Bold beers made with rye, like Terrapin's Rye Pale Ale from Georgia, have a great grassy, peppery character that's good with eggplant's bitter notes. A light-bodied red wine without too much tannin, like a Dolcetto d'Alba from Piedmont, would also work well.

Pairing Note Not all wines and beers are vegan (that is, made without using products such as gelatin). For details, contact the producers directly.

Contributed By Photo © Con Poulos Published June 2011

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