This Spicy Zucchini Involtini Is Perfect for Entertaining
In Italian tradition, involtini is made using sliced and grilled eggplant, but I love it with my favorite summer veg instead.
I’ve always enjoyed zucchini, but I know it can seem a bit boring— especially during the summer when you have sooo much on hand. But there’s a ton of fun stuff you can do with it. Enter this zucchini involtini.
Basically, it’s cheesy zucchini baked in tomato sauce, and it is DELICIOUS. Think stuffed pasta minus the pasta and plus lots of great vegetables. It’s perfection—and sure to become a new favorite.
You can prepare this dish twelve hours in advance, completing all the steps up until the final bake. Let it cool, then store it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook and serve. If any excess water collects on the surface of the sauce, drain it off or blot with a paper towel before baking.
Spicy Tomato Basil Zucchini Involtini
Prep: 45 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 1 hour and 20 minutes
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving, or 2 teaspoons dried
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 to 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- fine pink Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or 2 cups tomato sauce
- 2 large zucchini or yellow summer squash
- 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- ½ cup shredded fontina cheese
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped, plus more for serving
- 8 ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella, torn
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a 9 × 13-inch baking dish.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, basil, oregano, fennel, paprika, and a pinch each of red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook until very fragrant, another 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste to combine. Reduce the heat to low, then add the bell pepper and tomatoes. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Meanwhile, using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, cut the zucchini into ¼-inch-thick strips and lay them flat on clean kitchen towels. You should have around 30 strips. Sprinkle the zucchini with salt.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, fontina, and basil.
- Spoon about ¾ cup of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Working with 1 zucchini strip at a time, spoon about 1 tablespoon of the ricotta mixture onto the center of one of the ends. Roll the strip into a coil and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining zucchini. Spoon the remaining tomato sauce over the zucchini. Scatter the mozzarella over the top.
- Bake until the mozzarella is melted and lightly browned on top, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Serve hot, topped with fresh basil and thyme.
Note: If your zucchini are on the smaller side, your strips might be a bit narrow. Lay two side by side lengthwise, overlapping slightly. Fill and roll them as one piece.
Reprinted from Half Baked Harvest: Every Day. Copyright © 2022 by Teighan Gerard.Photographs copyright © 2022 by Teighan Gerard and Kristen Kilpatrick. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.