Culinary shape-shifter eggplant can be cajoled into many forms. A steak, strips of bacon, and even a fragrant rose. And if you're wondering why one might want an aubergine rose, let me tell you — this is the tastiest rose you'll ever eat. A rose feels a rather appropriate way to ignite a love affair with eggplant, too; by thinly slicing the eggplant and roasting it with Parmesan and some fresh herbs, you'll avoid some classic pitfalls of eggplant cookery and easily fall in love with this summer gem.
Eggplant is often bemused for its spongy texture, but that same texture makes it incredibly easy to manipulate when raw, and allows eggplant to literally soak up the flavors of whatever it is cooked with. Thinly slicing the eggplant gives us the opportunity to twirl it up into tasty cheese-filled roses, a delicious side dish, or a two-bite appetizer. A mandoline makes quick work of the slicing, but a sharp knife can be used as well.
Easy Cheesy Filling
You could really fill these eggplant roses with any number of fillings — creamy ricotta whipped with an egg, cheddar cheese and smoked paprika, even cooked ground beef, but Parmesan and herbs hold these eggplant spirals together beautifully and still let the taste and texture of the eggplant shine through. As for the herbs, a combination of basil and thyme tastes best, but feel free to use what you have on hand.
How To Make Eggplant Roses
What You Need
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs, such as basil and thyme
3 pounds eggplant (long, skinny specimens are best)
Standard 12-cup muffin tin
Measuring cup and spoons
- Heat the oven: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Brush a standard 12-cup muffin tin with the oil and set aside.
- Make the filling: Combine the Parmesan and herbs in a small bowl; set aside.
- Slice the eggplants: Trim the stems from the eggplants. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, thinly slice the eggplants lengthwise into 1/16-inch-thick slices. You should have about 36 long, skinny pieces.
- Season and roll: Line 4 eggplant slices end to end. Sprinkle the slices with about two tablespoons of the Parmesan mixture. Starting at a short end, roll up the eggplant and place flat-side down in a prepared muffin tin well. Repeat filling and rolling.
- Bake: Sprinkle any remaining Parmesan mixture over the top of each rose. Bake the roses until golden and tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Cool and remove: Cool the roses in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove before the cheese sets and sticks to the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- These roses are best eaten the day they are made.