Crawfish Eggplant Rollatini
This Creole Italian dish combines the best of South Louisiana-delicious eggplant and succulent Louisiana crawfish tails. A rich crawfish stuffing rolled in roasted eggplant. Creole at its finest.
Servings: 12 Servings
- 4 eggplants in all
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound crawfish tails
- 3 cups yellow onions about 2 medium onions-fine chop
- ½ cup celery about 1 stalk-fine chop
- 1 cup bell pepper about 1 small pepper-fine chop
- 4 cloves garlic fine chop
- 1 cup green onions about 1 bunch-fine chop
- ½ cups seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 cup crawfish or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
- ½ cups parmesan cheese
Herb and Spice Blend
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon dry basil leaves
- ½ teaspoon dry thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning plus some for the crawfish tails
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper optional
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Prepare the eggplant
Slice 3 eggplants into ⅛” to ¼” thick slices lengthwise, peeling is optional.
Sprinkle each slice with kosher salt on both sides and let sit about 10-15 minutes to draw moisture out of the eggplant.
Pat the slices dry with paper towels, then brush each with a light coating of olive oil.
Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place the baking sheet in a preheated 350-degree Fahrenheit oven sheet for about 10 to 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through until the slices are soft and supple.
Take out to cool until needed.
Prepare the filling ingredients
Mix about 1 tablespoon of Creole seasoning into the crawfish tails and set aside.
Chop the trinity and place it in a prep bowl. Chop the garlic and green onions and place those in separate prep bowls. Peel the one eggplant and cut into approximately ½” cubes and set aside. (This should be between 3 and 4 cups of cubed eggplant). Measure butter, stock, breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Mix the Herb and Spice Blend into a small prep bowl.
Make the filling
In a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or cast iron frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. When bubbling, add the trinity and saute until starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and about ½ of the Herb and Spice Blend and Bay leaves saute until the garlic is aromatic, this should take only a couple of minutes, .
Add the diced eggplant and saute until the eggplant has softened and reduced, about 10 minutes. Smash the eggplant pieces as it cooks.
Increase the heat to medium-high and add the stock. When it beins to boil, lower the heat tand simmer until reduced by about half (about 10-15 minutes).
Mix in the crawfish tails, green onions, Worcestershire sauce and the remaining Herb and Spice Blend.
Stir well and let it simmer for about 10 minutes until the liquid has reduced almost completely.
Add the breadcrumbs (a little at a time) and parmesan cheese and mix well to combine all the ingredients.
Remove the pan from the heat and cover (use aluminum foil if there is no cover for your frying pan). Let this sit for about 10 minutes as the breadcrumbs absorb any liquid and develops into a moist stuffing-like consistency.
Roll the rollatini and bake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Remove the bay leaves from the filling.
Lightly coat the bottom of a 9” X 13” baking dish (or similar) with olive oil or non-stick cooking spray.
Lay a slice of roasted eggplant on a cutting board or baking sheet and place about 2 tablespoons of crawfish filling on the wider end. Roll the slice towards the thinner end. Place the filled eggplant roll in the prepared baking dish with the seam-side down. Repeat until all eggplant slices have been filled.
Brush a light coating of olive oil on top of each eggplant roll, then sprinkle each lightly with parmesan cheese.
Set the baking dish in the preheated 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes.
Serve with Sauce Creole spooned on top (optional).
Using a serving size of two rollatini, you should yield about 12 servings.
Read my article for greater details on the step-by-step process for making this dish.
To make the roll-ups, the eggplant slices should be long and thin and softened prior to rolling. There is no need to peel the eggplant, so choose the side that is the flattest and. with your chef's knife, make the first slice to expose the meat. Then carefully slice the eggplant about ⅛ to ¼ inch thick. Take your time doing this so you have uniform slices.
Sometimes it's not easy to make uniform slices with a strangely shaped eggplant. If you end up with some half or partial slices, don't toss them. Try to put a couple together to make a full slice, then roll 'em up!
Eggplant has very high water content and roasts better if some of the water is removed. The best way to do that is to use salt to draw out moisture. Sprinkle each slice with kosher salt and let them sit for at least 15 minutes, more if you have time. Before roasting you should pat the slices with paper towels to absorb the surface moisture.
There are two ways (at least) to make the slices soft and supple. You can pan-fry the slices in a little olive oil for about 2 minutes on each side, or roast the slices on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes. I usually brush the slices with olive oil before placing them in the oven. The roasting adds depth of flavor and all the slices cook evenly (assuming they are pretty uniform in thickness).
I recommend only Louisiana crawfish. A great online source for Louisiana crawfish tail meat is The Cajun Grocer. I have no affiliation with this company but I know them to be a reliable quality company with good service and excellent products.
You can substitute shrimp for the crawfish quite easily. Use small to medium uncooked shrimp. If you use larger shrimp, give them a rough chop. Add the shrimp to the recipe just as you would the crawfish, they will be fully cooked by the time the rollatini bakes.
For the recipe as is, crawfish stock is best, but chicken stock is perfect for this recipe and is what I use most of the time. If you substitute shrimp for the crawfish, you could use homemade shrimp stock, although chicken stock will be perfect then as well.
Crawfish Eggplant Rollatini doesn't really need a sauce to be delicious. Sauce Creole adds a great flavor dimension and makes it hard to stop eating! To make it a little more Cajun, ladle on some Creamy Crawfish Sauce, or use a traditional tomato gravy for a more classic Italian dish. Pour the tomato sauce over the rollatini, add mozzarella cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
Leftover rollatini can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days if placed in an airtight container or plastic wrap. To reheat, let the rollatini come to room temperature then place them in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes until warmed all the way through. You can also heat them in the microwave.
Rollatini can be frozen before or after baking and maintain their quality for 10-12 months.. To freeze before baking, prepare the rollatini up to the point just before brushing olive oil and sprinkling the parmesan cheese on them. Let them come to room temperature. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put them in the freezer for about 2 hours. Place the frozen rollatini in a freezer-safe, airtight container, freezer bag or in a vacuum-sealed bag (recommended-if you freeze them individually first, the vacuum sealer will not smash the rollatini). When you are ready to eat, defrost them in the refrigerator for 24 hours, then bake according to the recipe instructions. To freeze after baking, let the baked rollatini get to room temperature and follow the same procedure. Place the frozen rollatini in an airtight container or vacuum-sealed bag. Tip: don’t sauce before freezing. To reheat, defrost overnight in the fridge then bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until warmed all the way through, or place in the microwave.
Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 418mg | Potassium: 542mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 927IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 1mg
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