Make it gluten free by simply replacing the plain flour with rice flour and use quinoa flakes instead of panko crumbs.
• 1 large eggplant, trimmed
• 2 tsp fine salt
• 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 100g baby spinach leaves
• ¼ cup water
• 250g fresh ricotta
• 20g parmesan, finely grated
• 2 Tbsp finely chopped basil
• ¼ cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
• Sea-salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to season
• ¼ cup plain flour
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
• Vegetable oil, to deep fry
• Tomato chutney, to serve
• Rocket and parmesan salad, to serve
Note: Allow 30 minutes standing time
Slice eggplant lengthways into 5mm-thick ovals to make at least 12 similar-sized slices. Put eggplant on an oven tray in a single layer and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Flip and sprinkle with remaining salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Put olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add spinach and water. Cook, covered, for 2 minutes or until wilted. Transfer to a fine sieve over a bowl and allow to cool. Using your hands, squeeze out excess liquid. Roughly chop.
Put ricotta in a large bowl and add spinach, parmesan, basil and olives. Stir to combine. Season and set aside.
Rinse eggplant and pat dry. Preheat a grill pan over a high heat. Grill eggplant, in batches, for 2 minutes on each side or until lightly charred. Set aside.
Put an eggplant slice on work surface and put a heaped tablespoon of ricotta mixture at 1 short end. Roll up to enclose mixture. Repeat with remaining eggplant and ricotta mixture.
Put flour, egg and panko in separate shallow bowls. Working 1 at a time, coat eggplant rolls in flour, followed by egg, then roll in panko until completely covered.
Pour vegetable oil into a medium saucepan until 5cm deep. Heat to 180°C on a cook’s thermometer, or until a cube of bread turns golden in 30 seconds. Cook rolls, about 4 at a time, for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and serve hot with chutney and rocket salad.