Beccafico (Sylvia borin) is a small song bird that nests in Tuscany and passes over Sicily in spring and fall for the winter migration.
Those birds were stuffed and cooked in the kitchens of the nobles and wealthy by the Monsu’, the chefs of the elite.
In popular cooking, the beccafico were substituted with fresh sardines or, to make this dish less expensive, the sardines were substituted with eggplant.
It is a delicious antipasto and a good vegetarian dish.
Serves 10 to 15
- 3 medium eggplants, sliced lengthways ½ inch thick, with the skin on
- 1 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 ½ cups breadcrumbs, toasted in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 anchovy fillets, chopped
- 2 oz pinoli nuts
- 2 oz currants or raisins
- Chopped Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons grated cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Bay leaves
- Large slices of onions (about 1 x 2), 1 for every rolled eggplant
Place eggplants in a colander salt lightly and drain for 20 minutes to remove the bitterness.
Void this operation if using garden fresh fruits or white or Chinese Eggplants.
Rinse the sliced eggplant and drain for a few minutes.
Gently pat dry with paper towels, brush both sides with oil and place the slices in a dish.
Grill eggplant slices until tender, about 4 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other side.
If a grill is not available, use your oven set to 400 degrees, cooking about 5 minutes on each side or until tender.
In a 12-inch skillet, heat ½ cup olive oil over a medium flame.
Add diced onions and sauté until golden, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add breadcrumbs and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Set aside in a large bowl.
When breadcrumbs cool off, add the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of sugar, fillets of anchovies, pinoli, currants, parsley and cheese.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix well to combine all of the ingredients.
The Stuffed Eggplants
As soon as the sliced eggplants are cool, place 1 teaspoon of stuffing on the narrow side of the slice, fold and roll up, arrange stuffed eggplant in an oiled pan 12” x 8”.
Alternate a slice of onion and a bay leaf between each rollatino di melanzana.
Whisk remaining olive oil with lemon and sugar, sprinkle over eggplant and shake any leftover breadcrumb mixture on top.
Bake for 20 minutes at 400’.
Rollatini taste better if served at room temperature.