Eggplant Involtini with Moroccan Marinara Sauce

Eggplant Involtini with Moroccan Marinara Sauce - gluten-free! | #glutenfree #healthy #recipe #italian

Eggplant Involtini!

…or as I like to call it, “eggplant rolltini!”

Have you tried eggplant roll…er…involtini? It’s a classic dish from southern Italy with breadcrumbs and ricotta cheese rolled up in slices of eggplant and roasted in tomato sauce. This version is slightly different from a traditional eggplant involtini, as I made a Moroccan-style sauce instead of a classic Italian sauce, and skipped the breadcrumbs altogether in order to keep the recipe gluten-free. 

Eggplant Involtini with Moroccan Marinara Sauce - gluten-free! | #glutenfree #healthy #recipe #italian

To cut corners, you can use store-bought pasta sauce for the recipe, but I loved how unique the Moroccan sauce made the dish! You could also use gluten-free breadcrumbs if desired, but I thoroughly enjoyed the dish without…because no breadcrumbs = more ricotta cheese = delicious.

Eggplant Involtini with Moroccan Marinara Sauce - gluten-free! | #glutenfree #healthy #recipe #italian


To my knowledge, “Moroccan Marinara Sauce” isn’t a real thing…it’s just the title I’m giving the sauce since it’s basically the same recipe you would use to make a classic Shakshouka (eggs stewed in Moroccan sauce).  You can look at it as a classic tomato sauce all gussied up with harissa and bell pepper for some Moroccan flair.

You can use the Moroccan-style sauce on your zoodles, regular noodles, in your lasagna recipes, for chicken parmesan…the list goes on and on – the sauce can go anywhere a red sauce can go. So if you’re looking for something a little otherworldly to change up some of your classic recipes that call for tomato sauce, this one may just be your jam.

And as it turns out, it’s DUH-lish with eggplant, so there is that.

Eggplant Involtini with Moroccan Marinara Sauce - gluten-free! | #glutenfree #healthy #recipe #italian

Recipe prep…the elephant in the room.

I will say, this meal is better suited for the weekends than any ol’ weeknight. In order to prepare it, you need to slice the eggplants, then let the water drain out for an hour or two.

While your eggplant slices are leeching water, you can prepare the Moroccan marinara sauce, which is a real cinch! You then cook the eggplant slices in a skillet for a couple of minutes in order to soften them up and turn them into noodle-like apparatuses.

Then comes the stuffing, rolling, and baking, which doesn’t take long and is actually pretty fun and therapeutic, but from start-to-finish, you’re looking at roughly 2 to 3 hours of prep/wait/cook time.

You can make this recipe vegan by using homemade vegan ricotta cheese (or vegan chevre!). If you’re in need of some hearty protein, ground turkey or beef would be amazing stuffers right along with the ricotta.

Eggplant Involtini with Moroccan Marinara Sauce - gluten-free! | #glutenfree #healthy #recipe #italian

Rolltini your eggplant!

Eggplant Involtini with Moroccan Marinara Sauce - gluten-free! | #glutenfree #healthy #recipe #italian

Eggplant Involtini with Moroccan Marinara Sauce

Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hours
Author: Julia


  • 2 inch large eggplants sliced length-wise into ¼- slices
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese I used part-skim
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt to taste

Moroccan Marinara Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Tiny pinch ground cinnamon optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt to taste
  • 1 cup Harissa sauce (mild medium, or hot)
  • 1 28- ounce can whole peeled tomatoes chopped

For Serving:

  • Fresh basil chopped
  • Parmesan cheese grated


Prepare the Moroccan Marinara Sauce:

  1. In a medium-sized non-stick skillet, heat the oil to medium. Add the onions and peppers, and sauté, stirring frequently until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, paprika, ground cumin, cinnamon (optional), red pepper flakes (optional) and sea salt, and sauté an additional 3 minutes.
  3. Add the Harissa paste and chopped tomatoes and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Note: if you’re in a time crunch, reduce the simmer time to 10 minutes.

Prepare the Eggplant:

  1. Using a mandolin slicer or a sharp knife, slice the eggplants lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices. You should end up with 12 to 16 slices and you can save the end slices for other uses, as they will not roll well.
  2. Sprinkle each side of the slices with sea salt and place in a colander in the sink. Allow eggplant to sit for 1 to 2 hours to allow much of the water to drain out. Use your fingers to gently press out any of the excess liquid. (Note: You can also layer the eggplant slices on a cutting board or divide between two plates and put paper towels between layers. Put a heavy object (such as a text book cast iron skillet) on top of the slices in order to speed up the process slightly).
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, garlic, green onion and salt until well-combined. Set aside until ready to use.
  4. Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet (enough to generously coat the surface) over medium-high heat. Place two eggplant slices on the hot skillet and allow them to cook until browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking another 2 to 3 minutes, until browned on both sides and slightly softened but not too floppy. Place cooked eggplant on a plate and repeat for remaining slices.

Prepare the Eggplant Involtini:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Poor the Morroccan Marinara Sauce into the bottom of a 13" x 9" casserole dish.
  2. Scoop some of the ricotta mixture onto the end of each eggplant slice (I used about ¼ cup of ricotta per slice), and roll them up. Place each eggplant roll in the casserole dish, nestling them into the sauce.
  3. Place casserole dish on the center rack of the oven and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly, the eggplant slices are cooked through, and the ricotta is gooey.
  4. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and chopped basil.

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  1. Katie (The Muffin Myth)

    This looks delish, Julia! Exactly the kind of thing I’m in the mood for these days. I think there are a few ingredients missing from the recipe…. eggplant and ricotta (and whatever gets stirred into the ricotta) seem to be in the instructions, but no quantities in the ingredients list. Help a sistah out so I can make this soon!

  2. Nicole - Coking for Keeps

    I’m having kind of a moment with eggplant right now, it seems to be gracing every single stand at the Farmer’s Market, and I love it! This is the perfect dish for end of summer, and I love that it can transition into fall and winter. Plus, it’s beautiful!

  3. Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health

    I love, love, LOVE eggplant rollatinis! Cooking them with Moroccan flavors is brilliant! That marinara sounds incredible!

    I usually save them for special occasions because they’re so much work but these actually look much easier to make than the traditional kind. I’m sure they are totally worth the trouble too. The perfect way to use up some more of that ricotta! 🙂

    Have a great weekend, love! xo

  4. Staci

    I’d love to try this, but there seems to be ingredients missing from the recipe., such as the eggplant and all the filling!

  5. Emily

    Awesome fusion idea! I love the Moroccan twist on these and a pinch of cinnamon in any tomato sauce really gives it that somethin’ somethin’ 🙂

  6. izzy

    These are so fun! I’ve actually only cooked with eggplant once in my life, eek! I never know what to do with them, but this looks like the best thing ever to do with them! And I love the Moroccan flare!

  7. Tina

    Hello, I am surfing in from Joanne’s site, Eats Well with Others. I have been very inspired by the vegetarian meals and so I also choose eggplant this week. It’s nice to find sites like yours and Joanne’s for good recipes. I am just starting to phase out the meat meals. Baby steps!

    1. Julia Post author

      So nice to “meet” you, Tina! Thanks for visiting from Joanne’s site! She has so many great vegetarian and vegan meal options! I hope you find some meatless meals here you enjoy. Always feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Best of luck on your meatless journey! xo


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