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Eggplant Parmigiana Rolls with Pine Nuts and Baby Arugula

Scott Phillips

Servings: eight as an appetizer.

If you think you know eggplant parmigiana, think again. In this inspired update, thin, crunchy ribbons of breaded zucchini wrap up a filling of eggplant, tomato sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano. A fresh arugula salad provides a pungent counterpoint. 


  • 4-1/2 Tbs. plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, cut into medium dice
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 3 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped fresh plum tomatoes (6 to 8 tomatoes)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. pitted and very coarsely chopped Kalamata or Niçoise olives
  • 1 Tbs. capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped if large
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 baby (Italian) eggplant (about 1/2 lb.) or 1/2 small regular eggplant, cut into large dice (2-1/2 cups)
  • 2 Tbs. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 Tbs. toasted pine nuts
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 3 small zucchini (about 1 lb. total)
  • 2 cups panko
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 5 oz. baby arugula (6 lightly packed cups)
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 250
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 170
  • Fat (g): 19
  • Saturated Fat (g): 3
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 12
  • Cholesterol (mg): 55
  • Sodium (mg): 170
  • Carbohydrates (g): 16
  • Fiber (g): 3
  • Protein (g): 5


  • Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and slightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a grind of pepper and simmer, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes cook down to a dry sauce, 20 to 25 minutes, reducing the heat to medium low if necessary. Off the heat, stir in the olives, capers, 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Heat 1 Tbs. each olive oil and vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and well browned on several sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
  • To the eggplant, add the finely grated Parmigiano, 1 Tbs. of the pine nuts, 1 Tbs. lemon juice, the basil, and about half of the tomato sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Using a mandoline, slice the zucchini lengthwise about 1/8 inch thick. Select the 24 widest, longest slices and arrange them in a single layer on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt and let sit until pliable, about 3 minutes—you can shingle the layers of zucchini between paper towels to save space. Pat dry. Arrange 3 slices of zucchini on a work surface, overlapping them lengthwise. Spread a heaping tablespoon of the eggplant mixture near one end of the zucchini ribbons and roll the zucchini around the filling to make a roll. Set aside, seam side down, and repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 8 rolls total. You may not need all the filling.
  • Put the panko, flour, and eggs in 3 shallow bowls. Lightly coat each roll in the flour, then dip it in the eggs, and coat in the breadcrumbs—it’s fine if it isn’t perfectly coated.
  • Heat the 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium heat. Working in two batches, fry the rolls until golden brown on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. As each batch finishes, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  • While the rolls cook, reheat the remaining sauce in a small saucepan, adding about 1/4 cup water, or enough to thin to a wet sauce.
  • Whisk the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil and 1 Tbs. lemon juice in a small bowl. Toss the arugula with the dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the rolls topped with the sauce, remaining pine nuts, and shaved Parmigiano, with the salad on the side.


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Reviews (4 reviews)

  • Mariezee | 10/20/2011

    I also had a terrible time with the zuchinni roll-ups. I think they should be salted on both sides for 30 minutes. I ended up baking them as "fall apart" rolls - layering would have made my life easier. I would not try do this again. Loved the sauce and filling.

  • littlebear | 04/30/2010

    I love this recipe - I've used it several times as a cocktail canap making small rolls using just single strips of the zucchini, and as a vegetable side with the three strips, and as a main course by layering breaded zucchini with the eggplant filling as another reviewer suggested - each time I've had rave reviews. The tomato sauce/stuffing is so flavourful that I use it for other purposes as well. I have found the zucchini is easier to roll if you microwave it til soft & pliable, rather than salting it -

  • danamphillips09 | 09/07/2009

    I had a really hard time rolling the zucchini slices up, I couldn't get the filling to stay put when I was dipping the roll in the egg, flour and bread crumbs, It turned to a big pile of glop, so I did what the first review did, I layered the zucchini, the sauce and incorperated fresh mozerella and parm. like a lasangna. The flavors were great, I will make the sauce again, but not the original recipe.

  • ChefIndy | 08/04/2009

    Sum of the parts is wonderful, but I couldn't get the rolls to roll no matter what I tried. 1/8 seems too thick and each of the three pieces seemed to want to roll on their own. Gave up, layered into a small casserole with the panko and cheese on top, baked and served without the argula. Too bad, I really wanted to like this, the presentation looked wonderful. Anyone else have any luck with the rolling? The eggplant mixture is delicious, kudos for the flavour layering.

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