The perfect meal fit for zucchini season, these zucchini roll ups are a light, healthy option filled with loads of flavor for a quick and easy dinner. Fresh zucchini is sliced extra thin, then rolled up around a mouthwatering filling of Italian sausage, mushrooms, spinach and ricotta, then nestled into zesty tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese!
Roll Ups Fit For Zucchini Season
Ah, zucchini season...
When these long, green, vibrant squash are plentiful in the markets, it's always a fun challenge to put them to good use and make creative recipes out of them!
From zucchini fritters to zucchini boats, from Mediterranean pasta to my ratatouille recipe, or even my recipe for healthy stuffed baked potatoes, zucchini is a beloved and versatile piece of produce to include in both savory and sweet creations.
But did you know that it's also a terrific squash to slice thinly and roll up with lots of yummy ingredients?
Enter my zucchini roll ups, which make use of thin slices of fresh zucchini, brimming with a creamy ricotta mixture featuring mildly spicy Italian sausage, mushrooms and spinach.
Gently rolled up, then nestled into an easy zesty tomato sauce and topped with an additional sprinkle of cheese, my zucchini roll ups recipe is just the light, healthy and scrumptious meal, perfect to make use of that zucchini bumper crop!
My Recipe for Zucchini Roll Ups
To make this zucchini roll ups recipe, slicing fresh zucchini into long, thin slices is the way to go, and I prefer to use a mandolin for this task, which keeps the slices very thin (roughly 2 to 3 mm or ⅛ inch thick) and uniform.
The zucchini slices need to be thin enough to be pliable so they can be rolled up around the filling. And while a really sharp knife can certainly do the trick, a mandolin makes the job quicker and easier.
Using larger, slightly wider zucchini for this is best, as they make better slices to hold the filling, though any medium zucchini will do. (If they're small, you may need more zucchini in order to accommodate the filling.)
Then, it's just a matter of quickly preparing the filling ingredients such as the Italian sausage and sauteed mushrooms, and combining them with the rest of the scrumptious ingredients in a bowl.
Here's a glance at my zucchini roll ups recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I prepare my quick tomato sauce and set it aside.
- Then, I cook my Italian sausage and saute my mushrooms and allow those to cool slightly.
- Next, I prepare my ricotta mixture, and dollop some filling onto the bottom of each slice of zucchini, then roll upwards to seal.
- To assemble, I add the tomato sauce to the bottom of my baking dish, then nestle my zucchini roll ups into the sauce and sprinkle over a small amount of mozzarella.
- I bake the zucchini roll ups for roughly 25 minutes, until tender and bubbly.
Zucchini Roll Ups
by Ingrid Beer
These zucchini roll ups are filled with a savory combination of Italian sausage, ricotta, spinach and mushrooms, then topped with mozzarella!
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 573 calories per serving
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Zucchini Roll Ups Ingredients:
- 3 Italian sausage links, casing removed (about 10 to 12 ounces)
- 6 ounces sliced mushrooms (I used shiitake)
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 3 large zucchini, sliced very thinly lengthwise into about 28 strips (roughly 2 to 3 mm on a mandolin, or ⅛ inch thick slices)
- 1 cup grated, whole milk mozzarella
- Fresh basil leaves or chopped parsley, for garnish
Tomato Sauce Ingredients:
- Olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- Black pepper
- 1 (28 ounce) can organic, crushed tomatoes (I use San Marzano)
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your tomato sauce ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Place a small sauce pan or pot over medium heat, and drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in the garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning and a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Saute this aromatic mixture in the oil for about 30 seconds to 1 minutes.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes and add a couple more generous pinches of salt and pepper, then allow the sauce to gently simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.
- Next, gather and prep all of your zucchini roll ups ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare the filling, place a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, and once hot, crumble in the sausage and cook for a few minutes until just about cooked through.
- Add to this the sliced mushrooms, and if necessary, a touch more oil if the pan is dry, and saute those with the sausage for about 4 to 5 minutes, or the mushrooms are tender. Then, add in the garlic and stir just until fragrant. Spoon this mixture into a paper towel-lined dish to cool for a little while.
- Once cooled, spoon the sausage/mushroom mixture into a larger bowl, and add in the ricotta, parmesan, baby spinach and Italian seasoning, plus a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, and fold together to combine. Keep the filling cool.
- Preheat your oven to 425°, and add the tomato sauce to the bottom of a 2 ½ to 3 quart baking dish.
- Then, place the zucchini strips in front of you, and sprinkle them with a little salt. Allow them to sit for 10 minutes to allow the salt to pull some of the water out of the zucchini, then blot them well with paper towel.
- Dollop a heaping tablespoon worth of the ricotta filling on the bottom of each zucchini strip, then roll the zucchini upward around the filling, and place each zucchini roll up into the baking dish with the pretty roll up side facing up (not flat on its seam).
- Repeat until all zucchini roll ups are nestled snuggly together in the baking dish.
- Sprinkle over the mozzarella cheese and bake the zucchini roll ups, uncovered, for about 25 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly caramelized.
- Finish with a sprinkle of fresh basil leaves or chopped parsley, and serve.
Tips & Tidbits for my Zucchini Roll Ups recipe:
- Choose larger, slightly wider zucchini: To make these slices easier to roll around the filling, if you can find slightly larger and wider zucchini, then opt for those. You can also use medium size zucchini, which will make strips/slices that are a bit smaller, so you may need a couple more zucchini to accommodate the filling.
- Use a mandolin for the thinnest slices, lengthwise: When it comes to slicing a vegetable like zucchini into extra thin slices, a mandolin works the best for this. A sharp knife will work, but the mandolin creates even, extremely thin slices, and it takes just a few minutes. When you do use a mandolin, take care to follow all safety precautions, such as cut-proof gloves and a vegetable holder/grip.
- Prepared tomato sauce as a short-cut: My tomato sauce is quick and easy to prepare, but feel free to use a good quality, store-bought marinara or tomato sauce if you'd like to streamline and use a short cut.
- Zesty Italian sausage, or other options: I love that little bit of zippy spice that Italian sausage offers here, but you can sub sweet Italian sausage, ground beef, or even turkey. You could also use a meat-free alternative (ground soy), or just stick to the ricotta mixture for a vegetarian meal.