Eggplant Rollups (aka Rollatini)

Eggplant Rollups (aka Rollatini)

Eggplant Rollups Final

When I heard my family out on the East Coast was having Eggplant Parmesan (aka parmigiana di melanzane, or melanzane alla parmigiana) for Christmas dinner, I got a taste for eggplant . . . only I needed a gluten-free, dairy-free option.  So I searched for “Vegan Eggplant Rollups,” then melded what I found into the following recipe.  For a first try it was amazing!!

Here are the recipes I started with:

And here’s what I actually ended up doing:

Eggplant Rollups


  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 ounces sliced olives (half a 4-ounce can)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Herb Seasoning (I use Penzey‘s brand which is a blend of oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 batch cashew cream cheese (see recipe below)
  • 5 ounces Vegan “Mozzarella” Cheese, shredded (I used “Follow Your Heart” brand)
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce (you can find my recipe at )


  1. Prepare the mushroom/spinach filling: Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add shallots and garlic and stir until lightly browned, 1-2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and sauté until they release their moisture and start to brown.  Add spinach and olives and cook until heated, stirring frequently.  Add Italian Herb Seasoning and  salt and pepper to taste.
  2. If you haven’t already done so, prepare the Cashew Cream Cheese and heat the tomato sauce.
  3. Thinly slice the eggplant lengthwise.  The slices should be approximately 1/4″ thick.  I used my OXO mandoline slicer set at 1/4″ (though the slices seemed thinner than that).  I ended up with 19 slices from my two eggplants.
  4. Line two cookie sheets with paper towels.  Spread out eggplant on the cookie sheets (it’s okay if they overlap a bit).  Sprinkle both sides of each piece with salt.  Let sit for 15-20 minutes to release moisture (and bitterness).  Pat dry.
  5. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Arrange eggplant on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Cover tightly with foil and bake 8-10 minutes until tender and pliable, but NOT fully cooked.
  6. Gather all your prepped ingredients at your assembly area: Eggplant Rollups Prep
  7. Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9″x13″ baking dish (glass or ceramic, not metal).
  8. Spread each slice of eggplant with a thin layer of cashew cheese.  Then spread a small amount (approximately 1 Tablespoon) of spinach mixture over the cheese.  Roll up and place seam-side down in baking dish. Eggplant Rollups #2

NOTE: I ran out of spinach filling after 15 rollups, so the last four (on the bottom right in the picture) are filled only with cashew cheese & vegan mozzarella.

  1. Once all the rollups are in the dish, top with the remaining tomato sauce and the vegan mozzarella cheese.  Cover tightly with foil. Eggplant Rollups #3
  2. Bake until tender, about 60 minutes.  (I removed the foil for the last 10 minutes to get them nice and browned.)  Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving. Eggplant Rollups Final

Cashew Cream Cheese
(based on )

Cashew Cream Cheese

NOTE: this is not exactly what I did for Christmas.  I made this recipe again later (to use on pizza!) and liked the second version better, so that is what I’ve written down here.

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 2-4 hours, then drained
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • a pinch of sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • pepper and/or herbs (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or mini-chopper.  Blend until smooth and thickened.  You may need to stop a few times and scrape down the sides of the processor.  These proportions worked well as a spread.  If you want to use this as a “dip,” add more water or some coconut milk (or other non-dairy liquid) until it is the consistency you like.

©2014 Lucinda DeWitt


Thai Food Feast

Continuing the Around the Gluten-Free World Tour with my favorite Thai dishes.  I’ve been making these for years . . . not realizing that part of why they are so satisfying is that they contain no ingredients that my body considers toxic—no gluten, wheat, corn, or dairy.*

Both of these recipes originated in Keo’s Thai Cuisine (1986) but I’ve modified them enough (and provide annotations) to feel comfortable sharing them here.

Evil Jungle Prince with Chicken
adapted from Keo’s Thai Cuisine (1986)
Makes 3-4 servings

  • 1/2 – 1 pound boneless chicken breast
  • 3/4 c. to 1-1/2 c. coconut milk* [buy a 15 oz. can]
  • 2 to 6 small red chili peppers
  • 1/2 stalk fresh lemon grass
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 10 to 15 sweet basil leaves, cleaned, dried, and (if large) gently torn into 1″ pieces
  • 1 to 4 Tbls. fish sauce*
  • 2-3 T. oil
  • Thai Sweet Sticky Rice [Look for it in an Asian Grocery. You can substitute regular rice or a bed of chopped cabbage, but the sauce this dish makes is simply delicious with sweet sticky rice.] Your rice should be all cooked and ready to eat before you start cooking the chicken.


Cut chicken into thin strips. Pour about 1/3 c. coconut milk over the chicken and allow it to marinate while you get everything else ready.

chicken marinating

Grind together red chili peppers, lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves in a food processor or mini-chopper until the lemon grass is in fine strands. [It helps to chop the lemon grass into 1 inch lengths before processing.]

The Lemon Grass, Lime Leaves, and Chilies mixture should be this finely chopped.

Heat oil to medium-high and saute the pepper/lemon grass/lime leaves mixture for 2 minutes. You want it to soften and release its flavors, but not burn or brown too much. Add about 1/4 c. coconut milk and stir to blend, about 1 minute.

Lemon Grass, Lime Leaves, and Chilies mixture cookingLemon Grass & Coconut Milk Mixture

Add chicken in its coconut milk marinade. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add in a bit more coconut milk (if desired). Stir in fish sauce and basil leaves.

Evil Jungle Prince w/Chicken in wok

Serve over Thai Sweet Sticky Rice.

Evil Jungle Prince w/Chicken


  • My local Asian grocery often runs out of Thai Basil before I can get there, so whenever I am lucky enough to get a bunch (which is usually much more than I need for a recipe) I make “Thai Basil Cubes” with any extra:  clean and stem the basil leaves, combine with a little water in a food processor, pulse/chop, spoon into ice cube trays, freeze, transfer to a ziploc bag.  Most of the pictures above are from yesterday, when I had to thaw a handful of basil cubes, strain, and add the leaves to the dish.

thawed and strained thai basil cubes

  • If you don’t have a food processor or mini-chopper to mince the lemon grass/lime leaves/chilis as finely as shown in the recipe, I recommend leaving them whole and removing them from the sauce before serving . . . the flavors will be more subtle, but there’s nothing worse than chewing on tough lemon grass.  Here’s the mini-chopper I use (not sure they even still make these):

Cuisinart Mini-Chopper/Grinder circa 1980s

  • Most of the pictures above are of a double-batch of the recipe (enough to feed 6-8). The recipe as written is what I usually make; I get four meals out of it when combined with the recipe below for Eggplant & Bok Choy.

Copyright © 2012, Lucinda DeWitt


Thai Eggplant with Bok Choy
adapted from “Eggplant with Chicken” in Keo’s Thai Cuisine (1986)

  • 2-3 Chinese/Japanese eggplants (the thin kind, not the fat Mediterranean kind) or 1 pound of Thai eggplants (small round green eggplants)
  • 4-5 baby bok choy (or 1 small bunch broccoli)
  • 6 Tbls oil
  • 1-2 tsp chili paste with garlic*
  • 10-15 Thai basil leaves
  • 1-3 Tbls yellow bean sauce* (or 4-5 Tablesppons of homemade Black Bean Sauce)
  • Thai Sweet Sticky Rice

Slice unpeeled eggplant crosswise into thin slices (1/4-3/8 inch thick). Remove the end, then separate and rinse the leaves of the bok choi. Chop into bite-sized pieces. (If using broccoli instead, separate broccoli into flowerettes and/or spears. Peel and chop the tender part of the broccoli stalk if desired.)

Bok Choy & Eggplant prep

Heat oil over medium-high heat in wok. Add chili paste with garlic. (Careful, it will splatter.) Add eggplant and cook for 3-4 minutes, getting all the slices coated with the oil/chili paste.

Eggplant in Chili Oil

Add bok choy or broccoli, stir to coat.

Add Bok ChoyEggplant & Bok Choy

Cover and cook/steam for 5-7 minutes. Add yellow bean sauce, stir to coat. Just before serving (when all the vegetables are cooked) add basil leaves.

Eggplant w/Bok Choy in Yellow Bean Sauce

Serve immediately over Thai Sweet Sticky Rice.

Makes 3-4 servings.


  • The original version of this dish used 1/3 pound boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced, cooked with the eggplant (rather than the broccoli). It also used crushed garlic and red chili peppers instead of chili paste, but it was difficult to avoid burning the garlic, thus my substitution of chili paste with garlic.
  • This dish works well with Evil Jungle Prince with Chicken.

Copyright © 2012, Lucinda DeWitt

* Do be certain to read the ingredients on any of the Asian sauces used in these recipes to verify that they are gluten-free/corn-free/dairy-free as you require . . . I’ve been able to find brands that seem “safe enough” for me, but none of them are labeled “gluten-free” (and no one is required to even acknowledge when their ingredients are “derived from corn”)  . . . use your own judgment and substitute where necessary.  Feel free to post substitution questions and comments in the comments below.
fish sauce, yellow bean sauce, chili sauce

Update:  I now make my own Chili Garlic Paste and Bean Sauce (Black rather than Yellow Bean).  You can find my recipes here.