The Washington Post

Roll into fall with an eggplant dish that captures the sunny essence of summer

- Ellie Krieger food@washpost.com Krieger is a registered dietitian, nutritioni­st and cookbook author who hosts public television’s “Ellie’s Real Good Food.” Learn more at elliekrieg­er.com.

This dish captures the shorts-and-asweatshir­t feel this time of year as we are clinging to summer while cozying up to fall. The summery essence comes from the peakseason eggplant and tomatoes, which are the cornerston­es of the recipe. The eggplant is sliced into planks, brushed with oil, seasoned with salt, and grilled. (There is no need to heavily salt and drain the eggplant before grilling it. Just start with firm, heavy-for-their-size eggplants, which have minimal bitterness.)

Then fresh, ripe tomatoes are chopped and simmered in with a little garlic until they transform into a chunky sauce. Both elements can be made ahead, so the rest of the dish comes together quickly and easily.

This is where you break out the baking dish, a sure sign of autumn. Spread some of the sauce on the bottom of it, then roll a dollop of spinach and goat cheese filling into each slice of eggplant, place the roll-ups in the dish seam-side down and top them with the rest of the sauce.

The filling is made by simply stirring together cooked, chopped spinach, goat cheese (you could sub ricotta), Parmesan cheese, parsley, a beaten egg, and salt and pepper. (I use frozen, chopped spinach for convenienc­e — it’s nutritiona­lly comparable to fresh, cooked and its texture works well in this dish — but if you have a load (10 ounces) of fresh spinach to use, you can steam that and chop it up instead.) Either way, be sure to squeeze the cooked spinach as dry as possible; you can save the liquid for smoothies or stock.

Baked until bubbly, the dish emerges from the oven with a true comfort-food appeal, filling and warm, but fresh and vegetable-centric, with the sunny essence of summer.

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 ?? TOM MCCORKLE FOR THE WASHINGTON POST; FOOD STYLING BY GINA NISTICO FOR THE WASHINGTON POST ??
TOM MCCORKLE FOR THE WASHINGTON POST; FOOD STYLING BY GINA NISTICO FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

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