Whetting the appetite: Zucchini rolls with roasted garlic ricotta


So, despite what you might think, my New Year’s menu was not all about sugar and booze–I actually made something with nutritional value! You know. To ring in the year right. After much deliberation, I decided that I needed something that fit the following criteria:

  1. Vegetarian-friendly (my veg friends have grown weary of hummus).
  2. Finger-sized (we had no plates).
  3. Green.
  4. Resplendent in some sort of cheese product.

Conveniently, a few days prior, I’d seen an episode of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello where he made a salad from thinly sliced strips of grilled zucchini. It looked amazing, and seemed like a good starting point–though the gorgeous strips of squash seemed to be crying out for something more than a simple vinaigrette. Something like a filling. Something involving roasted garlic.

*Cue the lightbulb over my head*

I cobbled together a filling of ricotta cheese, roasted garlic, and chopped fresh basil; it was sufficiently pleasing that I’m considering making some ravioli out of it, or possibly smearing it all over my toast. I also made about four times as much filling as I’d bought zucchini–be ye not so stupid! I strongly advise that you go for the gusto and grill up more zucchini than you think you might need–not only will you probably have just enough, but if all else fails, you can save it as a snack or put it on a sandwich.


Also, use a mandoline to slice the zucchini if you have any regard for your fingers at all.

Really, though, just be sure to make enough. We ran out, and it almost got ugly.

Zucchini rolls with roasted garlic ricotta

5-6 medium-sized zucchini
Olive oil
Splash of white wine vinegar

For the filling:
1c ricotta cheese
1 head garlic (you’ll be roasting this, so don’t freak out immediately)
1 small handful basil, chopped finely
Juice of ½ lemon
Olive oil

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Cut the top off your garlic and drizzle it with olive oil. Wrap in foil (wrap tightly, but leave some head room at the top) and bake until soft and melty—about 45 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile…cut off the ends of the zucchini, then slice it as thinly as you can (I understand a mandoline would be tremendously useful here; I will let you know when I’ve had a chance to test that theory). Brush each side lightly with oil and then grill over medium heat (flipping a few times) until it’s slightly translucent and very pliable.
  3. Place cooked zucchini in a large bowl, covered with a kitchen towel. Splash on a little white wine vinegar, toss gently and leave to steam for a few minutes.
  4. While the zucchini steams, make the filling—toss the ricotta, basil, lemon juice, olive oil and roasted garlic (which should squeeze out of its papery skin gorgeously once it’s cooled) with a little salt into the bowl of your food processor—whiz away until it’s well-mixed and smooth!
  5. To assemble: place about a teaspoon of filling on the end of each zucchini strip, then gently roll it up. You don’t need to affix it with a toothpick, though you certainly could if you wanted to. Serve with balsamic drizzle and a dusting of chopped basil—if you’re so inclined!
In hors d'oeuvres, new year's eve, vegetarian

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