Eggplant Braciola

Isa Chandra Moskowitz, chef and owner of Modern Love in New York City, shared this recipe for a vegetarian braciola, where jammy, umami-laden planks of tamari-roasted eggplant encase a filling of lentils, walnuts, and spinach. The whole thing is served in a pool of marinara with islands of vegan ricotta. While the eggplant roasts meltingly tender, the filling retains a meaty and satisfying bite.

Eggplant Braciola
Photo: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 25 mins


  • 2 large Italian eggplants (about 1 pound each)

  • 3 tablespoons tamari

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/3 cups)

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

  • .666 cup walnuts (about 2 1/4 ounces), finely chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 4 teaspoons)

  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

  • 2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, plus more for garnish

  • 5 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, finely chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)

  • cup (2 2/3 ounces) dry red wine

  • .666 cup canned brown or green lentils (about 3 1/2 ounces), rinsed

  • 2 ¼ cups marinara sauce, divided

  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach (about 2 ounces), roughly chopped

  • ½ cup vegan ricotta cheese (such as Kite Hill Almond Milk Ricotta Alternative), for serving

  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Trim and discard stem and base ends from eggplant. Stand 1 eggplant upright on cutting board. Trim about 1/4 inch off the right and left sides; discard trimmed pieces. Cut eggplant lengthwise into 4 (1/2- to 3/4-inch-thick) planks. (Each plank should have skin on two long sides.) Repeat process with remaining eggplant. Brush eggplant planks evenly with tamari and 3 tablespoons oil.

  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On one half of baking sheet, shingle 4 eggplant planks lengthwise, overlapping by about 1 inch and alternating direction of stem ends to create a mostly square shape. Repeat with remaining eggplant planks on opposite side of baking sheet.

  3. Roast in preheated oven until eggplant is mostly tender and lightly browned, 35 to 45 minutes. Using a flexible spatula, firmly press each eggplant slab to compress layers. Let cool on baking sheet about 15 minutes. (Do not turn oven off.) Using a spatula, carefully flip each eggplant slab, repositioning slices back into place, if needed. Press again to flatten. Return to oven, and roast at 350°F until very tender but not falling apart, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheet, about 30 minutes. (Do not turn oven off.)

  4. While eggplant is roasting, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in walnuts, garlic, rosemary, thyme, oregano, black pepper, and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring often, until tender and lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring occasionally and scraping bottom of skillet, until liquid is completely reduced, about 2 minutes. Add lentils and 1/4 cup marinara; cook, stirring constantly and mashing lentils using back of spoon, until mixture is well combined, about 3 minutes. Add spinach; cook, stirring constantly, until just wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Season with additional salt and black pepper to taste. Set aside at room temperature.

  5. Line another rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay 4 (12-inch) pieces of kitchen twine lengthwise on pan, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. Place 1 eggplant slab lengthwise over strings, leaving about 1 inch of strings exposed on one side. Repeat with remaining eggplant slab, overlapping first eggplant slab in center by about 1 inch, to create 1 rectangular (about 10- x 8-inch) slab of eggplant, leaving at least 1 inch of strings exposed on opposite end. Press with spatula to flatten. Spread mushroom-lentil mixture evenly over eggplant, leaving a 2-inch border on the right edge. Starting from the left edge, carefully roll the eggplant into a tight roll. Tie roll with twine to secure. Brush top of roll with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Roast at 350°F until lightly browned and heated through, 20 to 30 minutes.

  6. Heat remaining 2 cups marinara in a small saucepan over medium, stirring often, until hot, about 3 minutes. Spread marinara on a serving platter; top with eggplant braciola. Dollop ricotta onto marinara. Garnish with basil leaves and crushed red pepper.

Make Ahead

Filling can be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 days; let come to room temperature before using. Braciola can be assembled 1 day ahead; cover tightly with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator. Let come to room temperature before baking.

Suggested Pairing

Brambly, dark-berried, Cal-Ital red: Ferrari-Carano Siena

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