Few things smell as good as a tray of Zucchini Rollatini baking in the oven. Paper thin slices of zucchini are all rolled up, stuffed with a cheesy blend of baby spinach, and ricotta, and dressed with a simple marinara. Zucchini rollatini is low-carb, gluten-free, and a very successful way to sneak some extra veggies into even the pickiest of eaters.
Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables. It's easy to grow, accessible in most groceries and farmer's markets, and is so versatile!
Zucchini has become even more popular lately thanks to low-carb diets and its ability to be transformed into "zoodles", or zucchini noodles.
But for me, zucchini is not a fad - it has been a lifelong companion, starring in some of my favorite childhood dishes and memories.
I can still remember my grandma making broken spaghetti and zucchini soup, or her delicious spaghetti with fried zucchini aka spaghetti alla Nerano; dishes I replicate often for my family.
But zucchini rollatini is one of my favorites.
I love that this has the taste, smell, and texture of a baked pasta dish, like stuffed shells, but is made with zucchini!
And this recipe presents a great way to use up extra marinara sauce. If you don't have the sauce already made, don't worry. It's also super simple and can be made in no-time.
How to make zucchini rollatini
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Begin by slicing the zucchini into 1/16-⅛" thick strips with either a wide vegetable peeler, or a mandoline. Once the seeds are beginning to show, flip the zucchini over and begin slicing the other side. The center half-inch which contains mostly seeds should not be used for this, but can be saved and used in another dish.
- Layer the zucchini strips in a colander and sprinkle kosher salt on each layer before starting the next one. This will allow the water in the zucchini to release. Let them sit for 60-90 minutes. During this time, cook the spinach in the microwave for 60 seconds. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the spinach in a clean kitchen towel to remove any water. Chop the spinach and set aside.
- Once the zucchini has released its liquid, rinse the salt off with cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Don't worry. Washing the zucchini to remove the salt will not reintroduce water back into the zucchini.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach with ricotta, basil, parsley, ¾ cup of mozzarella, ¼ cup of Pecorino Romano, and black pepper. Mix thoroughly and give it a taste test, adjusting the salt level as needed. Then, add two beaten eggs and mix to combine.
- On a large, clean surface, layer 3-5 slices of zucchini lengthwise, overlapping each other. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture in the middle of the zucchini layers.
- Roll up the zucchini rollatini and leave the seam side down, working in batches until all the zucchini is used up.
- Layer a half inch of marinara sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish and place the zucchini rollatini, seam side down, into the baking dish.
- Spoon more of the sauce onto each rollatini and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Pecorino Romano cheese. Bake at 400f for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden on top. Enjoy!
Tips for making zucchini roll ups
This is a simple dish, but there are a few non-negotiables as far as I'm concerned.
- Salting the zucchini is strongly recommended. A lot of water will be pulled out of the zucchini strips. Try to give it about 60 minutes.
- Draining the ricotta overnight, or for at least 2 hours, is recommended. Ricotta has a lot of water in it. The combination of waterlogged zucchini and wet ricotta could result in a swimming zucchini rollatini versus what you see in the pics above and below.
- The zucchini need to be sliced with a vegetable peeler or mandoline. This is not a time to use a knife, no matter how sharp it is or how skilled you are with it. The paper-thin slices of zucchini is what makes this dish such a hit.
- This dish freezes really well. Make extra and pop in the freezer for a time when you just want to hit the easy button.
If you love this dish, you'll probably also enjoy our recipe for eggplant rollatini.
It's breaded and fried and more substantial than this zucchini rollatini, so keep that in mind, and make it when you're in the mood for some calories!
More recipes with ricotta
Besides the stuffed shells and lemon stuffed zucchini above try these:
- Four Cheese Baked Manicotti
- Spinach Lasagna Rolls with Bechamel Sauce
- Meatless Baked Ziti
- American Lasagna
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Watch the video below where Jim will show you how to make this recipe with easy-to-follow instructions.
- 3-4 medium zucchini sliced 1/16 to ⅛" thick
- 1.5 cups ricotta drained for at least 2 hours
- 1 cup baby spinach steamed, drained, chopped
- ½ cup Pecorino Romano cheese grated
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded, divided
- ¼ cup parsley minced
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups marinara sauce see notes below
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt divided
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Slice the zucchini to 1/16"-⅛" thick strips with a wide vegetable peeler or mandoline. Once the seeds are mostly showing, cut strips from the other side. The center ½" with mostly seeds should not be used and can be saved for another purpose. Layer the zucchini strips in a colander and sprinkle kosher salt on each layer. Let the zucchini release water for 60-90 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the spinach in the microwave for 60 seconds, then when able to handle, squeeze the spinach in a clean kitchen towel to remove moisture. Give the spinach a chop.
- Combine the spinach with the ricotta, basil, parsley, ¾ cups mozzarella, ¼ cup Pecorino Romano, and a half teaspoon of pepper. Mix well and taste test. Adjust salt levels to desired taste and then add 2 beaten eggs and mix to combine.
- Rinse the zucchini to remove the excess salt and dry off thoroughly with paper towels.
- On a large clean surface layer 3-5 pieces of zucchini lengthwise overlapping each other. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture in the middle of the zucchini layers. Roll up the zucchini rollatini and leave the seam side down. Work in batches until all the zucchini is used up.
- Layer a half inch of marinara sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish. Place all the zucchini rollatini, seam side down, into the baking dish. Spoon some more of the sauce onto each rollatini and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Pecorino Romano cheese.
- Bake at 400f for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top. Enjoy!
- Though salting the zucchini really helps draw the water out and is recommended, if short on time, you could forgo the step.
- Draining the ricotta for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight, is also recommended to remove excess water.
- Slicing the zucchini with a mandoline works great to get even thin slices.
- Use this marinara sauce or your own.
- Leftover zucchini rollatini can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and reheated in the oven at 350f until warm or the microwave for a couple of minutes.
- Freeze for up to 6 months and reheat in the oven at 350f until hot.