My pasta Rotolo of masala Aubergine, spiced spinach and feta

23 Dec
Rotolo of masala Aubergine, spiced spinach and feta

Rotolo of masala Aubergine, spiced spinach and feta

Often my mind races through evaluation and check list mode; what of that email I was supposed to send…the music isn’t right is it, did I buy kitchen foil? Why did that person say/do that, am I looking too much into it? Do I need to make a doctors appointment, what was that recipe submission date? Will I get that contract and when will I get a chance to paint my nails? What shall I make for dinner and what should I charge as daily rate?

But then a little head lands in my lap, ‘happy birthday mumma’. It’s not my birthday, but I know he means that he loves me. I run my hand through his hair, cup his face and tell him that I love him. ‘Thank you mumma, you’re welcome, I love you’.

As we race matchstick cars down the track and talk about dinosaurs, planets and animals I reflect on how blessed I am and that with each day that passes, it is one less from his childhood. That’s why it’s so important to be ‘here and now’. In the present, in the moment and cherishing it all. Of course there are practicalities like working, bathing, eating, cooking etc, but you know what I mean. This is also why, at Christmas time when we have family and friends visiting us over a couple of weeks and I do much of the cooking, I don’t want to make elaborate, fiddly dishes that take hours to cooks and ages to clean up after. I want something that shows effort, looks like a feast and above, is utterly delicious.

We’ve all had those excruciating moments during entertaining loved ones, were the as the host we end up in the kitchen tossing, baking, simmering and assembling. We hear laughter and cheer in the living or dining room and wish we could be part of it. Why not prepare a dish you can stick some cling film ver and pop in the oven whilst you sit down and smile with the group, clutching a cup of something hot and sweet?

Cue my pasta rotolo; how does it look? Good eh? Let me tell you…it tastes like a spicy, tangy, slippery, crispy, cheesy and smooth gorgeous little nest. Just look at it, it’s quite impressive isn’t it? And guess what, it’s so easy to do! Here’s how.


2 medium aubergines
350g frozen spinach
150g feta cheese
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
Salt to taste
4 cloves of garlic, minced
5 tbsp oil for cooking
1 tsp cumin seeds
1.5. tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
A generous pinch of pepper
3 fresh lasagne sheets
Vegetarian hard cheese or mature cheddar for sprinkling on top

1. Wash the aubergines, coat them in oil and roast them in the oven at 180degrees for 30mins or until they are soft on the inside and shrivelled on the outside. Let them cool and scoop out the insides. Mash them lightly on a plate until they are pulpy.image
2. To make the aubergine masala, heat 2tbsp oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and once they sizzle add the onions and some salt. I added 3/4 tsp. cook the onions until they are golden before adding half the minced garlic. Sauté until the onions are lightly browned before adding the cumin powder, turmeric, 3/4 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp paprika. Sauté for 30 seconds and then add the aubergine masala and mix throughly. Turn off the heat and leave it to cool.image
2. To make the tomato sauce, heat 2 tbsp oil and then add the remaining garlic, paprika, chilli and salt (I added 1 tsp) and then sauté for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and bring it to simmer. Add a pinch of sugar if your tomatoes are sour.
3. To make the spices spinach, heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds, fennel and allow the mustard to pop. Add the spinach, salt, pepper and 3/4 tsp of garam masala. Cook for4-5 minutes, check that there are no frozen bits and turn it off the heat. Simmer for about 8-10 minutes on a medium flame.image
4. Heat the oven at 180 degrees and then start on the rotolo. Take one lasagne sheet and spread it with one third of the aubergine masala. then spread the spinach on top (a third) and crumble on some feta. Roll it up, then cut it in half, then half again.image
5. In a deep dish, spread the tomato sauce. Then, gentle place the rotolo pieces inside the sauce before sprinkling the cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 30mins or until golden brown.

10 Responses to “My pasta Rotolo of masala Aubergine, spiced spinach and feta”

  1. foodbod December 24, 2013 at 7:20 am #

    Lovely recipe and lovely story – enjoy your gorgeous boy and those precious moments

    • Deena Kakaya December 24, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      Thank you so much Elaine! I really want to make the most of smiling and talking with loved ones this Christmas rather than being cooped up in the kitchen. I hope you enjoy a beautiful time with your loved ones too, Merry Christmas xx

      • foodbod December 24, 2013 at 9:53 am #

        Thank you xx Merry Christmas

  2. kellie@foodtoglow December 24, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Love the greek, italian, indian mash-up! Something for everyone, Deena. A perfect entertaining dish for when you just want to hang with everyone and not worry about the meal.

    • Deena Kakaya December 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

      I’m loving your terminology Kellie! Thank you, it really is just one that can sit and wait for hungry admirers rather than having to be laboured over. Yummy too xx

  3. EA Stewart-The Spicy RD December 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    Such a fabulous combination of flavors in this dish! And your little guy sounds like such a sweetie 🙂 Enjoy the time with your family and friends and Merry, Merry Christmas! xoxo

    • Deena Kakaya December 24, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      Hello spicy one, so nice to hear from you! Yes, it’s a tasty and pretty combination and you are right, my little one is a real blessing because he’s so sweet, kind, clever and utterly delicious. I’m so lucky. A very Merry Christmas to you and your family. Thank you for being so kind to me this year and I wish you lots and lots of joy and love xxx

  4. greenmackenzie December 24, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

    Deena I really understand what you write about here. I love having everyone over, but hate the feeling of missing out on the fun while slaving away in the kitchen. Love the sound of this recipe, warming and tasty, and I love the sound of your sweet son. Much to be thankful for over the festive season 🙂

    • Deena Kakaya December 24, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

      Oh thank you so much for your lovely, lovely comment. I hope with easy dishes like these I can actually sit with my loved ones and feel their love. My boy is such a blessing. I hope you have a very beautiful Christmas xx

  5. owyn johnny May 7, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    What a great recipe I am always on the look our for recipes based around pasta. Would this recipe work well with truffle oil, I have bought some from here

Let me know what you think about this recipe

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