This vegan eggplant rollatini is healthy comfort food at it’s finest! Made with tender slices of roasted eggplant stuffed with creamy dairy-free ricotta cheese and baked in zesty marinara sauce, this scrumptious dinner will quickly become a favorite.
I really love the stuff! Any time I make it I have a hard time not snacking on it right out of the food processor.
Even though I love my vegan ricotta, I don’t always feel like pasta. I mean, vegan ricotta is pretty substantial on its own, as is pasta. Put the two together and you’ve got a pretty heavy meal. That’s where eggplant comes in!
What is Rollatini?
Rollatini is kind of like manicotti, but instead of pasta, you’re stuffing ricotta (in this case vegan ricotta) into rolled up pieces of eggplant, which is arguably even more delicious than pasta.
Your stuffed eggplant then gets baked up in tomato sauce, and if you like, topped with some extra cheese, such as a shredded vegan mozzarella.
How to Make Vegan Eggplant Rollatini
You’ll need a big eggplant, and I recommend that you consider salting it, especially if you notice any browning when you slice it open.
Salt the Eggplant
Slice your eggplant into thin slabs then place them into a colander. Sprinkle your slabs very generously with salt and let the eggplant sit for at least 30 minutes. You should notice some droplets of water forming on the surface of your slices.
After a half hour, rinse your eggplant very well. You’ll want to remove all of the salt. Then pat the slices dry.
Roast the Eggplant
Now brush your eggplant slices with olive oil. Arrange them on a baking sheet that’s lined with parchment paper and roast the eggplant for about 12 minutes. The goal here isn’t to fully cook the eggplant — you just want to soften it up so it’s easy to roll.
Make the Vegan Ricotta
Prepare your ricotta filling while the eggplant roasts. Start with some soaked raw cashews. Blend them up with a bit of non-dairy milk to create a paste.
Add some tofu, lemon juice, garlic, onion, basil, Kalamata olives (optional, but I really love them in here), and salt. Pulse the food processor until the mixture is blended but chunky, like ricotta cheese.
Assemble the Rollatini
Ladle some marinara sauce into the bottom of a baking dish. Grab a slice of eggplant and spoon a bit of your filling on top, about a half-inch from the end. Roll the eggplant tightly over the filling, then place the roll into your baking dish.
Repeat this until you’ve stuffed all of your eggplant slices and used all of the filling.
Bake your rollatini until the sauce is bubbly.
How to Serve Vegan Eggplant Rollatini
If you’d like, you can sprinkle your rollatini with some vegan shredded mozzarella during the last few minutes of baking, or top it with some vegan Parmesan cheese just before serving.
I topped mine with toasted panko breadcrumbs to add a little crunch that’s reminiscent of eggplant Parm, without the frying! Just place some panko breadcrumbs in a skillet with a bit of olive oil, some garlic powder, and salt. Toast everything in the skillet over medium heat until your breadcrumbs begin to darken and smell toasty.
Sprinkle your toasted panko on top and dig in!
Vegan Eggplant Rollatini Tips & FAQ
- Leftovers will keep for about 3 days in a sealed container in the fridge, or for about 3 months in the freezer.
- Make ahead option: the vegan ricotta cheese can be made up to a day in advance and stored in a sealed container in the fridge.
- Did you forget to soak your cashews? Boil them in water for 15 minutes instead.
- Can this dish be made gluten-free? Yes! Just omit the toasted panko or use a gluten-free variety of panko breadcrumbs to make them.
Vegan Eggplant Rollatini
This vegan eggplant rollatini is healthy comfort food at it's finest! Made with tender slices of roasted eggplant stuffed with creamy dairy-free ricotta cheese and baked in zesty marinara sauce, this scrumptious dinner will quickly become a favorite.
For the Eggplant
- 1 large (1 1/2 to 2 pound or 680 to 900 gram) Italian eggplant (or 2 medium eggplants)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the Vegan Ricotta
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup unflavored and unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 7 ounces extra firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 3 cups marinara sauce, divided
For the Toasted Panko
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Generous pinch salt
Cut the top off of the eggplant, then slice it, lengthwise, into 1/4-inch thick slabs. You should get around 12 slices.
Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant very generously with salt. Arrange the slices in a colander and set it in the sink to drain.
Let the eggplant sit with the salt on it for 30 minutes.
Rinse the eggplant slices well to remove all of the salt, then pat them dry with a towel.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
Brush both sides of each eggplant slice lightly with olive oil, then arrange the slices on the baking sheets.
Bake the eggplant for 10 to 12 minutes, just until the slices soften up a bit. Leave the oven on when you remove the eggplant.
While the eggplant bakes, make the ricotta. Place the cashews and milk into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade.
Blend the cashews to a relatively smooth paste, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add the tofu, lemon juice, onion, garlic, basil, olives, and salt to the food processor bowl.
Pulse the food processor until the mixture is slightly chunky, with a texture like ricotta cheese.
Ladle 2 cups of marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish (or use a couple of smaller dishes).
Arrange an eggplant slice on a work surface, then spoon 3-4 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture over the slice, about 1/2 inch from one of the ends.
Roll the end over the filling, then continue rolling to form a tube filled with the ricotta mixture. Place it in the baking dish.
Repeat until all of the eggplant slices and filling have been used.
Place the dish into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly.
While the eggplant bakes, make the toasted panko topping. Stir the panko, oil, garlic powder and salt together in a small bowl.
Place a medium skillet over medium heat.
Give the skillet a minute to heat up, then add the panko mixture.
Cook the panko mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 4-5 minutes, until the breadcrumbs begin to darken and smell like toast.
Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the panko to a bowl.
Allow the eggplant rollatini to sit for about 5 minutes after coming out of the oven, then ladle the remaining cup of marinara sauce over top and sprinkle with toasted panko.
Divide the rollatini onto plates and serve.