Spinach & Ricotta Aubergine Rolls

Stuffed pasta shells, but make it low-carb, gluten-free and keto-friendly. This recipe swaps pasta shells for roasted aubergine slices, which are filled with a herby spinach and ricotta mixture and baked in a tasty homemade tomato sauce.

This recipe calls for homemade sauce but in a pinch you could use your favourite store-bought sauce. I recommend going with the homemade version though. It’s more effort, yes, but I promise you it’s worth it!

To make things easier, both the aubergine slices and tomato sauce can be prepared the day before. In fact, you can make the whole dish a day in advance, up until before it goes into the oven. All you then need to do the following day is bring it to room temperature and bake it.

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 5 1x
  • Category: Vegetarian



For the aubergine slices:

  • 3 large aubergines (approx. 250g each)
  • 3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly-ground black pepper

For the tomato and basil sauce:

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 45 g double concentrated tomato purée
  • 2 x 400g tins good-quality whole or crushed tomatoes (I use Mutti)
  • 400 ml water
  • 1 tsp sugar, optional
  • 20 g fresh basil leaves, divided

For the filling:

  • 350 g fresh spinach (not baby spinach)
  • 175 g ricotta
  • 50 g parmigiano reggiano, grated
  • ½ lemon, zest only
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 15 g fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 15 g fresh basil, finely chopped
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg


Roasting the aubergine

  1. Heat your oven to 200℃ on the fan setting. It’s the best setting to use when baking or roasting things on different levels. Line two extra-large baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Remove the aubergine stalks and cut the aubergines lengthways into ½ cm-thick slices (approx.). Transfer the aubergine slices to a large bowl. Add the extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and toss well to coat.
  3. Spread the aubergine slices out onto the greaseproof paper-lined baking trays. A little overlap is ok, but ideally you want them in a single layer. Roast for 25 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until softened and lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Making the sauce

  1. You can skip this step if you’re using shop-bought sauce; I recommend making your own though! While the aubergine slices are roasting, heat a splash of extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sweet onion and season with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, then add the tomato purée. Cook, stirring frequently, until the paste begins to darken, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the tinned tomatoes, water, sugar (if using) and half of the basil leaves. I leave the leaves whole, but feel free to roughly tear them. Season with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove the sauce from the heat. Tear in the remaining basil leaves and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning, then transfer the sauce to an oven proof dish. I used a wide, shallow 3-litre casserole dish.

Making the filling

  1. While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to the boil and season very generously with salt. Add the spinach and cook until it’s just wilted, around 2 minutes.
  2. Drain well and allow the spinach to cool. Squeeze out all of the liquid and roughly chop the spinach.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the chopped spinach with the remaining filling ingredients. Set aside.

Assembling the dish

  1. Heat your oven to 220℃ / fan 200c. Lay one of the aubergine slices on a chopping board, thinner end facing you. Place a heaped teaspoon of the filling on the thinner end then roll the aubergine – from the thinner end to the thicker end – so that the filling is encased.
  2. Place the aubergine roll in the tomato sauce, seam-side down. Repeat with the remaining aubergine slices and filling. You should end up with around 30 rolls, all sitting snuggly in the sauce.
  3. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the aubergine is golden brown on top and the sauce is bulling. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 mins. Top with grated parmigiano reggiano, serve and enjoy!


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