Cheesy Ricotta Zucchini Involtini

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You know those recipes where you don’t quite get it the first few times, but just KNOW it has potential? That’s this right here. Its presentation is deceiving- this really can be a weeknight meal. 

About two months ago a recipe involving zucchini “roll ups” piqued my interest- the presentation was beautiful and I loved the idea. I tried it the next day and while we ate it, the sauce was way too watery and overall it needed a boost of flavor. Slowly I began to do trials, changing everything from the filling to the sauce, step by step.

About four trials later, and I think I’ve perfected this: it has the perfect balance of a few cheeses, tomato sauce, & zucchini. It’s also truly flexitarian- simply add or omit crumbled chicken sausage in the sauce (I’ve done both). While I like to make my own tomato sauce (something that can be a day or two before and also used for other things), using a store-bought sauce streamlines this even more. 

P.S. The time I took this picture I accidentally ran out of mozzarella and used Mexican cheese instead (which explains the color)- but it tasted just as good and I loved the pic!

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Cheesy Ricotta Zucchini Involtini

Servings 4 servings
Total Time 55 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • optional: 2-3 Italian chicken sausages precooked, diced (depends on how much meat you want in the sauce; I prefer less, so usually do 2)
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella divided
  • 8 ounces full fat ricotta drained of any excess water/moisture
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil and/or oregano use 1/2 teaspoon of dried in place of fresh

Easy Homemade Tomato SauceMakes roughly 2 1/2 cups

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 14- ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 14- ounce can tomato puree

Instructions

  • Make tomato sauce (see below). Pour tomato sauce in a 9’’ cast iron skillet or oven-proof dish (about 2’’-3’’ deep). If using chicken sausage, add into sauce now.
  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella (give or take- feel free to eyeball), 1/4 teaspoon salt, black pepper and fresh herbs.
  • Slice zucchini thinly with a vegetable peeler or mandolin. Place on paper towel and blot to remove any excess moisture.
  • Lay down two zucchini slices, slightly overlapping each other, flat on a cutting board. Add about a heaping tablespoon of ricotta mixture to one end (leaving a bit of space on the end). Roll up ricotta in zucchini. Place the wrap seam side down in sauce. Repeat for remaining zucchini slices.
  • If you have any leftover ricotta, place spoonfuls on top of the sauce.
  • Sprinkle top with remaining (almost 1/2 cup) mozzarella on top.
  • Place skillet in oven and bake until cheese has fully melted and zucchini is lightly tender, about 10- 15 minutes.
  • In a medium sauce pot, add in olive oil, onion and garlic. Saute until onion is translucent and just beginning to brown.
  • Stir in tomato paste and saute until dark in red color, about 2 minutes.
  • Add whole peeled tomatoes (as you add, crush them with your hands- be careful the juices will squirt out!), remaining juices, and the tomato puree. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until sauce has thickened.
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian

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