Cheesy Zucchini Rollatini

I saw Valerie Bertinelli make this recipe on the Food Network and I thought I can make this and do a few little twists and turns to make it my own and according to my preferences. So thank you Valerie for the initial idea and know this recipe is my take on the basics of what she made.

Since I do not have a large family I am always looking for ways to scale down recipes in order to make them for two. Just recognize that you can double or triple this recipe according to the number of mouths you need to feed.

I was initially intrigued by how good this recipe looked but was even more pleased with how it tasted. It looks like it would be difficult to do but in actuality it’s really rather simple. All you need is a little patience, and I recognize that may be a challenge for some home cooks. But believe me, in this case, patience is well worth what you will receive in the end.

The original recipe was meatless but I like to put meat in my marinara sauce. I think it adds to the overall flavor. But rest assured, you can easily make this a meatless meal and it will be equally delicious.

So let’s talk cheesy zucchini rollatini…

Lesson Learned 1 – You will need a mandolin slicer for this recipe: In order to get even long strips to roll the filling in, you will need to use a mandolin slicer. When I first saw this on tv I thought it would be hard but it was actually rather simple. Just cut of the ends off the zucchini, set your slicer to cut a 1/8 inch slice, place the zucchini on the mandolin with the palm of your hand on top of the zucchini and move it slowly downwards to create the slice. Chances are the first slice you will need to discard as the bottom of the zucchini will be a little uneven, but beyond that you should get some great slices.

A couple of things to keep in mind: This recipe works better with larger zucchinis. You get larger and longer strips. Also it is very important to take your time during this step. Slowly move the zucchini over the blade with the palm of your hand on top. As you get closer to the top of the zucchini quit cutting and use another zucchini if needed. When I made this recipe I only needed 1 large zucchini but you should plan on two and go from there. I got five nice slices out of a large zucchini which was enough for us. Again I cannot stress enough the need to work slowly and carefully when moving the zucchini through the slicer. It really is an easy process but one you need to do with care.

Lesson Learned 2 – You will need to soften the zucchini slices before filling and rolling them: The zucchini slices will roll more easily if you soften them slightly. You can do this by filling a large skillet with a couple of inches of water and heat the water to simmering. Then put the slices in for a very short period of time (I put them in the water for a minute and a half). Then gently lift them out and place them on a paper lined plate to blot off any excess moisture. You will immediately notice a difference in the texture of the zucchini. It will be softer and much more pliable. Once they cool to the touch you will be able to fill and roll them.

Lesson Learned 3 – Make the cheese mixture first: I found it helpful to have the cheese mixture ready to go once the zucchini slices were ready to stuff and roll. When that process is done you can just keep them on the plate until your marinara sauce is heated and ready for them.

The hardest part, and believe me it isn’t really hard at all, is making the zucchini rolls. The rest is pretty basic but boy does it create one heck of a dish. Try this sometime with some garlic bread and a nice salad and you will have an impressive, delicious meal, one that you will make over and over again.

Cheesy Zucchini Rollatini...

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

1 Italian sausage link, casing removed (or about 1/8 pound Italian sausage)

1-2 large zucchinis

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped

1 tsp. fresh basil, chopped

1/2 tsp. lemon zest

1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella, divided plus some additional for final garnish

1 egg

1-2 cups marinara sauce

Kosher salt

Italian seasoning, to taste

Italian parsley for garnish, optional

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Add about 2 inches of lightly salted water to a large skillet and bring the water to a simmer.

Mix together the ricotta, oregano, basil, lemon zest and 3/4 cup of the mozzarella. Add 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. In a small separate bowl, crack open and beat the egg. Add 1 Tbs. of the beaten egg to the cheese mixture. Stir to combine. (You will either have to repurpose or discard the remainder of the egg).

Trim the ends of the zucchini and slice them lengthwise on a mandolin slicer to about 1/8 inch thick. Reserve the larger interior slices and save the rest for other uses.

Place the zucchini slices in batches into the simmering hot water and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the slices and place them on a paper lined plate to drain the slices and remove any excess moisture. Continue this process with any remaining slices.

In an eight inch ovenproof skillet (I used a cast iron skillet), cook the Italian sausage until lightly browned. Add the marina and some Italian seasoning and cook until warmed through.

While the sauce is warming lay the dried zucchini slices out on a work surface. Spoon a tablespoon of the cheese mixture on one end of the slice and gently roll up the slice. Place on a plate seam side down. Continue with the remaining slices.

Add the slices into the warm sauce seam side down. Spoon a little marinara sauce over the tops of the slices. Sprinkle some shredded mozzarella on top. Sprinkle some Italian seasoning over the mozzarella.

Cover the skillet with foil and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven after 20 minutes and set the oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle some additional mozzarella on top of the slices and place the skillet uncovered back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes. Serve with a salad and some garlic bread.

 

Taters, Taters, Taters (Let’s Exchange Recipes)…

No matter what you call them, how you prepare them or how you serve them I love taters! Yes I know about carbs and yes there are some great alternatives but nothing in my mind compliments a meal like some delicious taters! Basically they are good for you, it’s all the stuff we put on them that causes the problems. But taters are one of my top guilty pleasures in life and that is not likely to change.

So I thought with this particular blog I’d try something a little different – basically suggest a tater exchange. I will give you a recipe that I’ve recently perfected and just love with the hopes that in the comments of my blog you share your favorite potato recipe. Then this blog can be a clearing house for a variety of great potato recipes – and what is better than that? Plus it will give me some new tater recipes to try.

So my recipe is for Greek Lemon Potatoes. These potatoes slow roast in the oven and the aroma of the garlic, oregano and lemon fill the air with a wonderful homey smell. So let’s talk Greek Lemon Potatoes

Lesson Learned 1 – How you cut the potatoes is important: I use Yukon Gold potatoes for this recipe and I actually peel them although it’s not necessary. Yukon Golds have a very thin skin and you can roast them either way. I try to pick out ones that are about the same size and thickness (not more than about 4 inches thick). I slice the potatoes in half and then I slice them down the middle lengthwise and into about six equal sized pieces widthwise. The picture below shows how I cut them.

Lesson Learned 2 – Be careful how much oil you use: When I originally tried this recipe I used 1/2 cup of olive oil. I found the potatoes came out too greasy. I’ve cut the amount down to a little over 1/4 cup but I found the amount of oil you use depends on the pan you roast the potatoes in. In a smaller high sided pan you will need less oil. In a larger pan where the potatoes are more spread out you’ll need more. Just make sure you’ve got at least 1/8 in of oil on the bottom. You may have to play around with the amount of oil. If you think the potatoes are coming out too greasy, just put them on paper towels for a couple of seconds before you serve them and you should be just fine.

Lesson Learned 3 – Your roasting time may vary depending on your oven: Once again I live in high altitude so the roasting process always takes a little longer. This recipe works well for me at 400 degrees for 1 1/2 hours but you may find your roasting time will be a little shorter. Keep in mind you’re cutting your potatoes into somewhat larger chunks so you will need some time to roast them completely.

Lesson Learned 4 – Salt the warm potatoes before you serve them: I’ve found that sprinkling a little bit of kosher salt on these potatoes right before you serve them gives them a little touch that really boosts the flavor. The warmth of the potatoes seems to incorporate the salt more fully. Try it and see what you think. These are not difficult at all to prepare and require very little monitoring but the end result c’est manifique… (I know that’s French and not Greek). Try these and share your favorite potato recipe with me. I’m always on the look out for a new way to make taters!

Greek Lemon Potatoes

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds of Yukon Gold Potatoes sliced in medium sized chunks

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

4 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice, (about 1 medium sized lemon)

2 Tbs. dijon mustard

1 Tbs. dried oregano

1/4 cup olive oil (may need to adjust according to the size you use)

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice potatoes into medium sized chunks and place in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine all of the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour this mixture over the potatoes and thoroughly combine.

Spray a medium sized casserole dish (2 quarts or larger) with cooking spray. Put the potato mixture into the prepared pan, using a spatula to get all of the olive oil mixture out of the bowl. Cover with foil and roast for an hour, stirring the potatoes at the half hour mark.

Uncover the potatoes, stir them once again and roast for another half hour. Sprinkle with kosher salt and serve immediately.

I’LL START OFF THE RECIPE EXCHANGE!

And since I am suggesting the tater recipe exchange, I will start the process – here is a great cheesy potato recipe that I know you will just love Cheesy Potato and Green Onion Casserole

Cheesy Potato and Green Onion Casserole