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.

By Isa Chandra Moskowitz
August 2021

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Credit: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Recipe Summary test

active:
45 mins
total:
2 hrs 25 mins
Servings:
4
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

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  • 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. 

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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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