Eggplant is an underused vegetable in most Western cooking and yet it is quite delicious if done right. My mom has been making these roll-ups for special occasions for decades. They are easy to make, addictive and are a great addition to an hors d’oeuvres buffet or appetizers before dinner. I served these with some roasted purple potatoes and open-faced smoked-salmon sandwiches earlier today and they were a great flavorful and garlicky side to an otherwise simple lunch. My husband isn’t really a fan of eggplants in general, but he likes these roll-ups quite a bit.
The main ingredients in this recipe are just eggplants and aioli. Aioli is a fancy word for “mayo with garlic,” derived from the French “ail” – garlic. For additional seasoning I used dill. That’s it! Just four ingredients and tons of flavor!
Eggplant Roll-ups with Aioli
2 fresh medium-sized eggplants (One eggplant will yield about 4-5 roll-ups, and I would say about four per person is a good serving size, so keep this in mind when deciding how much of everything you might need).
2 generous tablespoons mayonnaise
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
1/2 cup olive oil (for cooking)
salt and pepper to taste
Start by chopping the ends and peeling most of the skin off the eggplants (I do leave on a few small strips of skin, for more flavor and texture). Slice them lengthwise, not too thinly – about 4-5 uniformly sized slices per eggplant. Lay them out on a plate, and sprinkle with salt.
Now make the aioli by mixing the mayo, garlic and half of the fresh dill. Heat half the oil in a skillet on medium heat. Blot the eggplant slices with a paper towel (they will have “sweated out” some moisture by now), and arrange as many slices in the skillet as you can fit. Fry with a lid on (this is important), about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until they are pretty soft and slightly browned, but not burned. (Burned eggplant will turn crispy and present a challenge when trying to roll it up!).
The reason you want to keep the lid on is that eggplants are highly porous and will absorb all the oil at lightning speed, leaving the skillet dry. By closing the pan with a lid, you allow for some moisture to be trapped in the pan, preventing the eggplant from burning.
Once the first set of slices is cooked, put it aside on a plate covered with foil. Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and fry the next batch.
Once the slices are all cooked and slightly cooled off, begin to cover one side of each slice with about a half-teaspoon of the aioli.
Slowly roll up each slice, starting at the narrow end (if there is one). garnish with additional fresh dill leaves. If you enjoy eggplant, you might want to check out my Eggplant Caviar recipe, as well.