What’s ideal about the eggplant is that it has so many uses other than fried and drenched in a red sauce topped with cheese.
You can roast slices and use as an ingredient for a grilled veggie sandwich. You can slice it, and use it in casseroles or gratins. Or you can roast it and mash the softened flesh to make a dip.
In today’s recipe, fried eggplant slices become malleable and are used to make a wrap with a stuffing of cheese, pine nuts, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. The recipe is extra terrific because it’s meatless.
Eggplant is a fruit, although it’s thought of and used as a vegetable. It’s a member of the nightshade family that includes tomatoes and potatoes.
The original recipe makes 16 wraps and recommends four per serving. This will depend on the size of your eggplant. If you use the large kind, often called globe eggplant, the wraps will be larger. Smaller and narrower eggplant will work for first course- or appetizer-sized portions.
I used a medium-large eggplant and found that two wraps as a main dish were plenty for a serving.
The two main caveats of eggplant are that they are like sponges, especially when frying, and soak up a lot of oil. Eggplant can also be bitter. When working with eggplant many recipes suggest salting the eggplant and weighting it before frying it. After salting, rinse the eggplant and pat dry before using. This step removes bitterness and excess moisture so the eggplant doesn’t absorb much oil when fried.
To slice eggplant, use a serrated knife to easily cut through the sometimes tough skin.
Sun-dried tomatoes have an intense flavor, so a little goes a long way. Today’s dish calls for sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. I used a 7-ounce jar of the Alessi brand.