This paneer and spinach filling is a staple in our house. Which I’m sure is apparent by now. I’d like to think of myself as someone that can make one component work in multiple ways and in multiple dishes. On the flip side, isn’t that the very definition of being a one-trick pony though?! (My track record for making French toast 1524 different ways doesn’t help my case one bit here.)
I use this filling in everything: to stuff banana peppers in a bake, as a sauce in pasta, and now rolled into this involtini. I almost always make extra too and store in the fridge and spread over toast for breakfast.
The eggplant involtini rolls look and sound cumbersome to make but they’re anything but. Slice the eggplant into thin strips and roast them in the oven. No salting and pan-frying required; doing this in the oven eliminates that tedious task altogether. Once the eggplant slices are nicely browned, you dollop some of the filling onto one corner and roll them up snugly to be placed on your pasta. As much as I love the banana pepper version of this dish, I’ve got to say, you don’t need any deft handling with eggplant like you do with those delicate peppers.
I use my roasted red pepper and tomato cashew sauce in this recipe. The sauce makes a double batch and I store it as a thick paste without loosening it (mainly for ease of storage). To use, just add enough water to get the consistency you want. Just a quick note though – as the pasta bakes in the oven it has the tendency to dry out a bit. Thin it out a little more than you normally would before baking.
PASTA EGGPLANT INVOLTINI
- 250 grams pasta
- 2 medium eggplants
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups pasta sauce (see notes)
- 200 grams spinach
- 200 grams paneer, cubed
- 4 green chillies
- Salt, to taste
- Cook pasta according to packet instructions. Drain and add to a large baking dish.
- Mix the pasta sauce through the cooked pasta adding enough water to loosen. (Baking in the oven will dry out the pasta a bit so add enough water to make a loose sauce.) Adjust seasoning. Add more chilli flakes if required.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C.
- Slice the eggplant lengthwise into thin strips. You want about 12 slices in total. Toss with olive oil to coat all the slices evenly. Lay them out on a large baking tray without too many overlaps. Roast for 25-30 mins until nicely browned.
- Add spinach leaves to boiling water and cook until just wilted, about 2 mins. Run the spinach under cold water to cool it down completely. Squeeze out all the excess water from the spinach with your hands.
- Add the spinach, paneer, green chillies and salt to a blender jar and pulse to get a coarse mixture.
- Divide the filling evenly between the eggplant slices. Lay the filling on one side of the eggplant slice and form them into rolls.
- Top the pasta with the eggplant rolls. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20 mins. Serve immediately.