Zucchini is a versatile grilling ingredient and can be grilled whole, in slices, rolled up or stuffed. This recipe combines the flavors of zucchini, goat’s cheese, parsley, spinach, and basil and the zucchini rolls are served in a spicy tomato sauce.
This is a great appetizer for five people or a main course for three. You can use either mild or hot paprika in the spicy tomato sauce, depending on how spicy you like it. This is a colorful and flavorful recipe and is quite easy to prepare.
The list of ingredients might initially look quite long but read it again and you will see you probably already have most, if not all, of those ingredients already, making the recipe even more appealing. The main ingredient is of course the zucchini itself, so ensure yours are blemish-free and perfectly ripe. You can slice the zucchini using a mandoline or knife. The strips need to be about ¼ inch thick so take care they are uniform, and neither too thin (they might break) nor too thick (they will be harder to roll up) and instead try to get them as close to ¼ inch as you can, using a mandoline if you have one, to save time.
These slices need to be grilled before you do anything else, so get the grill fired up before you begin slicing the zucchini, so it is nice and hot by the time you have all your slices ready. The filling that you are going to roll the zucchini strips around is lovely and creamy. To make this you need to combine goat’s cheese with lemon and parsley, for a filling which offers various flavors from piquant to tangy and creamy as well.
Add spinach and basil for extra aromatic flavor and also to add a nice touch of green to the dish. These ingredients go inside the zucchini rolls, but save some of the best basil leaves, the most perfect-looking ones, and you can garnish the dish with those just before serving, to add a gourmet twist. The finishing touch is the spicy tomato sauce, and you will love the flavor of that. Not only does it boast the distinctive sweet flavor of tomatoes and Italian seasoning to bring out their lovely taste, but also in there you have paprika, fennel seed and some balsamic vinegar.
All these ingredients mix together nicely to produce a full-flavored, fresh-tasting sauce for this Italian style dish. Serve the zucchini rolls warm and have the sauce hot too. The creamy filling will be warm not hot, but the heat from the grilled zucchini slices will warm it somewhat. Since this is an Italian inspired recipe featuring myriad Italian ingredients, you might wish to serve some garlic bread alongside the dish to round out the meal and make it more filling. Another idea is adding some chopped walnuts or pine nuts to the goat’s cheese mixture for some crunch and perhaps swapping the lemon juice for lime juice so you get a slightly different flavor. Such substitutions are easy to make and you can really make this recipe your own by doing that.
- 3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch slices
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ oz soft goat's cheese
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley leaves
- ⅓ cup basil leaves
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 1 ½ teaspoons mild or hot paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seed
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Basil to garnish
- Preheat the grill to medium.
- Discard the outermost zucchini slices and brush the rest with oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper.
- Grill for 4 minutes per side or until tender.
- Combine the parsley leaves, goat's cheese and lemon juice in a bowl and mash together with a fork. Put ½ teaspoon of the cheese mixture ½ an inch from the end of the zucchini slice.
- Top with some spinach leaves and one small basil leaf or half a large basil leaf. Roll up and place seam side down. Repeat with the rest of the zucchini.
- To make the spicy tomato sauce, combine the tomatoes, paprika, Italian seasoning, sugar, vinegar, and fennel seed in a pan over a medium heat until simmering. Pour the sauce around the zucchini rolls and serve warm. Garnish with a large basil sprig.
Our stuffed zucchini rolls boast a goat’s cheese and vegetable stuffing, offering a range of flavors from sweet to savory, and various textures from creamy to vegetal. This is a very impressive dish when it has all been put together and it makes a wonderful side dish. Alternatively you could serve it just as it is for a special lunch. Since this is vegetarian-friendly, you do not have to add any meat to the equation unless you want to offer some grilled strips of chicken or veal on the side, to enhance the Italian appeal. Warm, toasted garlic bread goes very nicely with this.
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