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Sarah's Eggplant Involtini

Posted by Suzanne on 07 Mar 2014

In the last days of the Sicilian summer of 2013, Australian interior architect and food stylist, Sarah Trotter, passionate about food, creating recipes, and places to eat and cook in, travelled to Sicily for a week.

Serious about food, she started the food blog Trotski & Ash in 2007 with imaginative minds, Romy Ash and Lauren Bamford.

Having grown up in strong Italian migrant areas in Australia Sarah was intent on experiencing in person Sicily’s “deep culture based around place and food." Sicily had always been a place which had stirred her imagination.

That week spent in 2013 she immersed herself in the hilltop medieval village of Polizzi Generosa where she was inspired to create her recipe, Eggplant Involtini.  It was simple and unexpected experiences that influenced Sarah’s Sicilian food journey.

On Sarah’s arrival in Polizzi she was welcomed with Eggplant Parmigiana cooked by Maria Culletta. This was Sarah’s introduction to the essence of Sicilian food which she said, she found, “so achingly simple and delicious."

Maria’s cooking, a long lunch in a mountain restaurant, Il Giardino Donna Lavia, and a village, would inspire Sarah.

In the streets of Polizzi during that week, Sarah watched the sacred celebration of the town’s patron saint and shopped at the local markets where boxes of ripe, red tomatoes, stacked high, were bought by the locals to make passata.

Staying in The Sicilian House, in Polizzi, she would drive to the mountains in the cool of the late summer morning. Not far out of town, she would see what she descibed as the locals loading “bulbs of fennel and mushrooms, picked for lunch”, into their three wheeled Piaggios, parked precariously on the side of the mountain road.  Mountain produce, the essence of Sicilian cooking, ends up on the tables of the homes and restaurants. It reminded her of how wholesome and thoughtful food can be.  

It was on the vine covered terrace of the restaurant Donna Lavia that Sarah ate beautiful local mushrooms, gorgeous pickled and preserved vegetables and meats. She said it was the best she had ever eaten.

Donna Lavia’s Eggplant Involtini, which Sarah described as, “rounds of eggplant layered with prosciutto, fresh tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and basil rolled up into a warm melting parcel”  really stirred her interest. “I have never enjoyed eggplant in the same way as when in Sicily, it was a real revelation to me as a cook, so full of flavour", said Sarah.  She wanted to know how to recreate Eggplant Involtini at home.

Sarah chatted with Maria about the delicious Eggplant Parmigiana she had enjoyed on that first day and the Eggplant Involtini she had eaten at Donna Lavia. A recipe was being created. Eggplant, a village and a couple of local Polizzi cooks had inspired. 

Sarah’s recipe for Eggplant Involtini captures, effortlessly the exoticness and simplicity of Sicilian cooking.

Here is the recipe.


Sarah’s Eggplant Involtini:


1 Eggplant (the rounder eggplants are best for this recipe) cut into 5mm thick rounds

6 fine slices of Prosciutto 

1 ball of fresh Mozzarella (or fior di latte)

200g Parmesan freshly grated

1 bunch of Basil

5tbsp of Passata (freshly made is best)



Place the eggplant rounds on a lightly greased tray and bake for a few minutes on 200 degrees until cooked through and slightly golden at the edges.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray.

Layer the rounds with a part-slice of prosciutto, 1 tsp of tomato sauce, a small chunk of mozzarella, a generous pinch of parmesan and a few leaves of basil. Roll the eggplant around gently and 'pin' together with a toothpick. Return to the oven until the cheese is melted.

Remove from the oven and undo the toothpick, the involtini should hold its shape. Serve immediately when the cheese is still soft and warm.



Salve, Suzanne



All images are courtesy of Sarah Trotter

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