Last year Sarah was in a remote Sicilian village in late Summer, early Autumn, when tomatoes, basil and eggplants were at their best, just as they are at their best here, now. It seems like the right time to eat involtini again. She remembers figs in the marketplace, and the neighbour across from her room in the Sicilian House, three floors up, with a tray of figs placed precariously on top of the washing line, hanging over the narrow stone streets, in the sunshine. The washing was drying. The figs were drying.
This recipe is based on both the parmigiana that Maria made for her the night she arrived and the memory of an eggplant involtini, part of a long garden lunch. Driving through Sicily for the first time, she arrived in the village the night of the San Gandolfo festival just as the rain had cleared everyone out. She says the parmigiana tasted like home cooked food, after weeks of travelling.
As this is such a simple recipe it’s important to have the best quality ingredients: beautiful cheese, shining, squeaky eggplants, lively basil, and home made passata. Each little involtini will come out of the oven the perfect size to be picked up in the hand. Offer your guests a knife and fork, but we like to serve them like this, on a plate, with just a napkin at the ready.
1 eggplant cut into 5mm thick rounds
6 fine slices of Prosciutto
1 ball of fresh Mozzarella (or fior di latte)
200g Parmesan freshly grated
1 bunch of Basil
5 tbsp of passata (freshly made)
Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the eggplant rounds on a lightly greased tray and bake for a few minutes until cooked through and slightly golden at the edges.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray.
When cool, layer the rounds with a part-slice of prosciutto, 1 tsp of passata, a small chunk of mozzarella, a generous pinch of parmesan and a few leaves of basil. Roll the eggplant gently around the insides and ‘pin’ together with a toothpick. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted.
Remove from the oven and undo the toothpick, the involtini should hold its shape. Serve immediately with the cheese is still soft and warm.
Serves 8 as a starter.