The involtini experiments continue!
Why am I only just discovering that this format—roast, stuff, roll, roast—is actually very adaptable and forgiving? Here, the ricotta filling is mixed with sautéed chard and lemon zest, but I’ve had success using leftover fresh corn polenta, chopped up roasted red peppers, and cubes of mozzarella, which makes me think the possibilities are endless. Friends, let’s think, what else can we involtini?
Note: I like the addition of the chard but know that you can make these with a simple seasoned ricotta if that’s more appealing: Just season the ricotta with salt, lemon zest, and thyme to taste. Dish can be assembled ahead and stashed in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.
- 1 pound zucchini, about 2 large
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked pepper
- 10 ounces Swiss chard, leaves removed and finely chopped, stems reserved for another use
- 1.5 cups high-quality whole milk ricotta
- Zest from one lemon
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups favorite fresh tomato sauce
- Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving, optional
- Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line two sheetpans with parchment paper or Silpats, or rub lightly with olive oil. Trim the stem end of each zucchini. Stand each vertically, and make 1/4-inch thick cuts down to create long slices—these don’t have to be perfect. Arrange the slices on the prepared sheetpans. Drizzle the zucchini lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer pan to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Remove pans from the oven. Use a fork or spatula to flip each zucchini slice over, return pans to the oven, and roast for 5 minutes more. Remove pan from oven. Keep oven on. Note: The cooking times will vary depending on how thinly you slice your zucchini—if you slice them less than 1/4-inch thick, you won’t need the full amount of cooking time. Know that the timing is forgiving, however—you just need the zucchini to be pliable so that they can roll into a coil.
- Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan set over high heat, heat the tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the chard leaves, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and sauté, rearranging with tongs as necessary. Cook the chard for about 2 minutes or until wilted. Remove pan from heat.
- To make the filling, in a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, lemon zest, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. When chard has cooled briefly, stir it into the ricotta mixture. Taste mixture. Add more salt to taste—this is your chance to make sure the filling is seasoned properly.
- Spoon tomato sauce into two 9-inch round baking dishes or one 9×13-inch baking dish—the bottom of the dish should be covered in a thin layer. Place a spoonful (about 2 teaspoons) of filling at one end of each of the zucchini slices. Roll the slice into a tight coil and place it seam-side down in the dish on top of the tomato sauce. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and bake until the sauce has reduced slightly and is bubbling, and the rolls are lightly golden on top, about 25 minutes. If the rolls are still not golden after the 25 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and preheat the broiler. Broil the involtini for about 3 minutes keeping a close watch the entire time. Remove pan from the oven and shave Parmesan over top if using. I like using my microplane for this.