Eggplant Rollatini is an incredible summer dish your friends and family will love. It’s light, yet satisfying with a fresh, slightly smoked flavor. Grilled eggplant is stuffed with a creamy cashew ‘cheese’ and served with a grilled tomato sauce and lots of fresh basil. It’s vegan, paleo and Whole30 compliant.
Eggplant Rollatini is one of my favorite summer dishes. When the eggplant and tomatoes are abundant in the garden I get excited to make this dish.
Traditionally eggplant rollatini is made with breaded, fried eggplant and ricotta cheese. I changed it up to make it lighter and healthier. This version is grilled and gluten free.
This filling is made with cashew “cheese” so it is dairy free! Great for vegans! Even though this version is lighter and healthier it has not lost any flavor, it tastes even better than the original. The nutritional yeast in the cashews gives it a satisfying “cheesy” flavor. I consider nutritional yeast a “superfood” because it contains lots of B vitamins, protein, and fiber.
I grill thinly sliced eggplant until nice grill marks appear and the eggplant is soft and silky. The easiest way to slice the eggplant is with a mandoline. It’s a great kitchen tool!
Grilling gives the eggplant a slightly smoky flavor. It also keeps the dish light and makes it easy to cook. If you have time salt the eggplant on both sides and let sit to “sweat” for 10 minutes – this makes the eggplant less bitter.
If you don’t have a grill you can roast the eggplant in your oven. Pre-heat oven at 400 degrees. Arrange eggplant slices on parchment lined sheet tray, drizzle with oil and sprinkle some salt. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until eggplant slices are soft.
Next step you’ll grill ripe tomatoes to make this delicious tomato sauce with rich and complex flavors! The grilled tomatoes are blended and simmered in a pan with garlic until thick and seasoned with fresh basil. It’s very simple.
While the grilled tomato sauce is cooking, prepare the cashew cheese. It’s simple; blend cashews with thyme, oregano, lemon, mustard, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper.
Once everything is ready, spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of the cashew “cheese” onto one end of each eggplant slice. Roll into a tight log. Repeat will remaining eggplant.
To Serve: Spoon sauce onto a serving plater, top with rolled eggplant and sprinkle with fresh basil.
It’s delicious and satisfying served as a main dish with salad or alone as an appetizer. It also goes well with your favorite gluten free pasta.
Tips for Making Eggplant Rollatini:
- Don’t slice the eggplant larger than 1/4-inch pieces or the eggplant will take longer to cook and be harder to roll. It yields a nicer texture too.
- Use the larger center pieces of the eggplant, to get even slices, save the smaller pieces for a stir fry.
- Oil the eggplant just before grilling. It’s like a sponge and will absorb it fast.
- You can make the cashew ‘cheese’ a few days ahead of time to make it easier. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
Reheating tips: preheat oven to 350F and heat until warm (about 10-15 minutes).
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. It’s light, fresh, flavorful, satisfying ‘cheesy’ and super delicious.
“Sun is shining. Weather is sweet. Make you wanna move your dancing feet.”
~ Bob Marley
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This Eggplant Rollatini is a great summertime dish that’s vegan and paleo. It’s light, yet satisfying and has a fresh, mild smoked flavor.
For the Rollatini:
- 2 medium eggplant sliced lengthwise ¼” thick, 12 slices (use a mandoline)
- Celtic sea salt
- Olive oil for grilling
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
For the Tomato Sauce:
- 5–6 plum tomatoes, about 1½ pounds, cut in half
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus a little for grilling the tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (a few shakes)
- Celtic sea salt and fresh pepper
- ¼ cup finely shredded basil leaves
For the Cashew Cheese
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked for 4 hours if possible)
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- 1 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- Black pepper
- ¼ cup water, approximately
For the Rollatini:
- Slice eggplants length-wise into 1/4-inch thin slices (it’s easiest to do this using a mandoline ) You should have about 12 slices of similar size (reserve end pieces that are shorter or odd-shaped for a stir fry).
- Salt the eggplant on both sides and let sit to “sweat” for 10 minutes – this makes the eggplant less bitter. (optional if you’re short on time)
- Preheat the grill on medium.
- Clean and oil the grill, once it’s hot.
- Pat the eggplant dry with a paper towel or kitchen towel.
- Brush the eggplant lightly with olive oil and grill over medium heat turning until tender and lightly charred, 3 minutes per side.
For the Tomato Sauce
- Turn the grill up to medium high.
- Brush the tomatoes with a little bit of the olive oil. (If your grill is well seasoned you can skip this step).
- Place the tomatoes onto the grill, cut side down.
- Grill about 2 minutes.
- Turnover and grill until tender and lightly charred about 3-4 minutes.
- Transfer tomatoes to a blender and puree until smooth.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan.
- Add garlic and red pepper flakes, sauté on low heat 1 minute until garlic is softened.
- Pour in the pureed tomatoes and sprinkle with salt.
- Simmer until sauce is thickened 10-15 minutes.
- Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat.
- Stir in basil.
For the Cashew Cheese
- Drain and rinse the cashews.
- In a blender or food processor add the cashews, garlic, thyme, oregano, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper and water.
- Blend or process to form a thick paste. Add more water if necessary, but not much, you want it to be thick like ricotta cheese.
To Assemble and Serve:
- Spoon enough of the tomato sauce to cover the bottom of a serving
- Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of the cashew “cheese” onto one end of each eggplant slice. Roll into a tight log. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices.
- Place the rolled eggplants on top of the tomato sauce in a pinwheel design.
- Garnish with thinly sliced basil leaves.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat before serving.
- Category: Main Dish, Side Dish
- Cuisine: Vegan, Paleo, Whole30, Italian
Keywords: eggplant rollatini, vegan, paleo, eggplant, tomato, grilling
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