Last week, I made a glorious fool of myself in the dairy section.
I was window shopping past the cheeses because I like to torture myself. Most of you know from previous posts or oddly personal conversations, that I avoid cow's milk as much as I can. Even the organic stuff. If I have too much of it (like...an ice cream cone's worth) I'll start breaking out, retaining water, and will experience a lot of post nasal and throaty issues. It sucks.
Fortunately, my doctors and I have found that organic goat or sheep's milk products have no effect on me. That is pretty common for folks with dairy sensitivities. I've found a lot of ways to incorporate these cheeses into my favorite recipes, but you know what is a little tough to stomach? Sheep/goat's milk ricotta. It's just....not right. It's not. It's goat-y.
So, rewind to last week when I made my pilgrimage of woe past the Reggiano, and my eyes fell on the tub of Kite Hill Ricotta Cheese, and yes, friends. I started to shout praises out loud to Jesus. My outburst should have embarrassed me, but I'm an Italian girl who has gone without regular ricotta for 9 years, and I'll praise if I wanna praise.
Kite Hill is a PHENOMENAL producer of dairy substitutes that are made with almonds. I promise you, as someone who really fusses about cheese: they know what they are doing. Their cream cheese is boss. So, after I delivered my praise and worship set complete with 'BLESS GOD, SAINTS', I grabbed the tub and started scheming because...
One of my favorite meals on earth is eggplant rollatini. Talk about comfort food with a lot of oomph. It is thinly sliced eggplant, stuffed with ricotta, rolled, drowned in sauce and mozzarella and then baked until it is golden and gooey. It is freaking magic. It will also make me look like a puffy, hoarse, pink-polka dotted version of Gimli the Dwarf if I eat a whole plate of the stuff at a restaurant. So I took it for a healthier spin.
I miei amici, my friends, I am so, so excited for you to try this. If you are a vegan, you can sub out the sheep's milk cheese that I melted on top, and use an egg substitute for the filling.
1 organic eggplant (yes, organic - they have thin skins. Pesticides. Yuck)
4 tbs. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tub Kite Hill Ricotta
2 drops Lemon Vitality Oil
1 drop of Basil Vitality Oil (drop it on a knife first and then swirl into the ricotta when its time)
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried parsley
2 cups shredded Manchego (sheep) cheese, or vegan cheese of your choice.
3 cups marinara sauce (Or more. Who am I to hold you back?)
Preheat oven to 425F
Wash the eggplant, and slice off the top stem and the bottom. Stand the eggplant up, and slice in half, all the way down. Cut eight of these long slices. Place on a greased cookie sheet and brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes. They just need to be soft and pliable.
In a bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, Vitality oils, and dried parsley. Mix together well. It will still be a little goopy, but such is ricotta. Set aside.
In a 13x9 inch baking dish, spoon just enough marinara sauce to coat the bottom. Take a slice of eggplant, and lay it flat on a working surface. Spoon about 2-3 tbs. of the ricotta mixture at the widest part of the slice, and roll towards the thinnest. Place the roll onto the bottom of the baking dish. Continue until all rolls are done. Spoon about 1 cup of sauce over the rolls, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes and serve with extra sauce and cheese.
The photos are really pretty, but I have to say. That is not how it looked when I ate it. I threw a couple rolls in a bowl, smothered it with sauce and cheese and went to town because this is real life, and I am SO happy.
Grazie, amici, e buon apptetito <3