Italian antipasti for an Australian Christmas – eggplant, zucchini and pepper rolls

Readers of this blog will know of my love of the Two Greedy Italians and their recipes. As well as being delicious, their simple cooking seems to come straight from the heart. I recently added Antonio Carluccio’s “The Collection”, to my cookbook collection. It was the first cookbook of one or either that I had purchased…..why had I waited so long?! It is a fantastic book with gorgeous photos and lots of Antonio’s quotes ~ I imagine him saying them in his delightfully accented English. The first recipe that I wanted to make was on page 23 – rotolini di melanzane, peperoni e zucchini (aubergine, pepper and courgette rolls). It seemed like the perfect light antipasto for Christmas day lunch.

grilled veg laid out_edited-1

I love this recipe for a summer Christmas for a few reasons – all the vegetables used are fresh and in season; you can make them a few hours in advance (even starting the day before with the preparation of the vegetables) and they look very festive on a platter. You could also choose to make just one type of roll, however when it is a celebration, all three types work beautifully together. I practiced making them this weekend for a friend’s Christmas party. I used an affettatrice (electric slicer) to get the slices of zucchini and eggplant the same thickness. But if you have a steady hand and a sharp knife, you can do almost as good a job without it. If you can find different coloured peppers – yellow, orange and red – they make a great contrast.

landscape platter veg rolls

On Christmas day I plan to serve these antipasti with some Dal Zotto Prosecco to the family, maybe just after we have opened all the presents. A beautiful colorful antipasto before Christmas lunch. Grazie Antonio for the inspiration!

Eggplant, pepper and zucchini rolls
Eggplants
1 large eggplant
olive oil infused with a garlic clove
1 large fior di latte or buffalo mozzarella, cut into batons
handful basil leaves (halved if very large)
salt to taste
Peppers
3 large red/yellow/orange peppers (capsicum)
olive oil
20 anchovy fillets (approximately), sliced in half longways
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Zucchini
2 zucchini, trimmed
olive oil
12 sun-dried tomatoes (approximately), sliced in half longways
handful basil leaves (leaves halved if large)
salt to taste

For the eggplants, slice them about 1-3 mm in thickness and scatter on some salt to allow some of the liquid to be drawn out. After about 30 minutes, pat the slices dry with paper towels and brush them lightly on each side with garlic oil. Roast in a 190 degree oven for around 10 minutes, turning over half way through, watching that they do not burn. Sprinkle salt on the cooked eggplant slices to taste once they have cooled. Place a baton of buffalo mozzarella and a leaf of basil on the edge of each slice of eggplant, roll up and use a toothpick to secure. Repeat with the remaining slices.

eggplant roll

For the zucchini, top and tail then slice the zucchini longways in 2-3 mm slices. Plunge the slices in salted boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes until softened. Drain and run some cold water on them to stop the cooking process. Briefly grill them on a griddle pan to get the lines (not necessary but they do look nicer!). Salt to taste. If you have rather long zucchini as I had, cut each zucchini slice through the middle to make two half slices. Lay half a sundried tomato and a basil leaf on one end of the half slice of zucchini and roll up, securing with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining slices.

For the peppers, place them under a grill on medium to high heat. Keep checking and turning them over so that the skin blisters and blackens evenly but they do not burn. Remove from the heat and allow them to cool, removing the charred outer skin. Cut the flesh into rectangles, discarding the stem and seeds. Lay slivers of anchovy and chopped parsley on one end of the pepper. Secure with one or two toothpicks.

pepper roll

Place the different vegetables rolls on a platter ready to serve. You can make these several hours in advance and cover the platter in foil and place in the fridge, removing at least half an hour before serving to allow them to come to room temperature.

selection antipasti square_edited-1

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