This is one of my favorite ways to feature zucchini, and it may seem overwhelming but it's actually really easy! Since it's going to get roasted in sauce, you don't have to worry about making perfect slices of zucchini. The finished product looks beautiful at the table and makes a great side.
I was inspired by Food52's amazing recipe for Zucchini Involtini with Swiss Chard & Ricotta. I loved that they used lemon zest, one of my favorite "secret" ingredients, in the ricotta filling. I've changed up the recipe a bit to use what I had around from the garden, but that's what's so great about a recipe like this: modify away using what you have at hand!
Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side
- 2 large zucchini
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- Lemon, zested
- 1 tsp chopped fresh herbs (any herb works, but I like oregano, rosemary, parsley, or a combination of all three!)
- 1 tsp finely minced garlic
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 2 TB Parmesan cheese, microplaned or shredded
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Slice off both ends of the zucchini.
- Standing the zucchini on one end, carefully slice downward in an even stroke. Your goal is thin slices about about 1/4" thick. If they're not all uniform, no big deal! If you realllllllly need all the slices to be the same size, feel free to use a mandoline but it won't affect the flavor of the finished dish.
- Drizzle the slices with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Place on a roasting rack on a sheet pan and roast for about 15 minutes. You want the zucchini to have enough flexibility to roll later, but not be cooked all the way to mush. If you slice them thinly, this will be closer to 10 minutes. If they are very thick, this may be 20 minutes. Using the rack, you shouldn't need to flip them over, but if you're omitting the rack flip them halfway through.
- Meanwhile, make the filling: combine ricotta cheese, 1 TB olive oil, lemon zest, chopped herbs, and minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (NOTE: if you want to make this a meaty dish, add some chopped cooked meat here! Chopped deli turkey, bacon, or ground sausage or beef would work well here).
- In a 10" cast iron pan or square pyrex pan, spoon some of the tomato sauce over the bottom of the pan. You'll often see this step in lasagna: this keeps the zucchini from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- With each slice of zucchini, place a small amount (approx 2 tsp) of the ricotta filling on the end of the zucchini closest to you. Roll away from you and create a tight coil.
- As you roll the zucchini, place them seam side down in the tomato sauce lined pan. If the rolls are not staying together, you can secure each rolls with a toothpick.
- When all the rolls are in the pan, top with the remaining tomato sauce and cover with aluminum foil.
- Bake 20 minutes and remove the foil. The tomato sauce should be bubbling at this point.
- Add parmesan cheese and continue to bake, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes until the cheese has melted and browned slightly.
- Dish em up and enjoy!