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Super rustic main courses like zucchini involtini are what summer cooking is all about. I’ll clarify that this one is totally fine to make on those summer nights when the temperatures aren’t still blazing hot. This one has a tiny bit of oven time–just a tiny bit! All of the components are cooked, so you’re just warming it all through.

We douse thin zucchini slices in olive oil, salt, and pepper and then we grill them to soften and char slightly. Those perfectly cooked zucchini slices form a nice tight roll around some creamy almond-based ricotta with lots of fresh basil thrown in. All of the dreamy-cheesy bundles are set into a vast pool of marinara and warmed through in the oven. I serve mine with chili flakes, extra chopped basil, and almond “parm.” Oh, and a couple glasses of wine :)

This is a naturally grain-free and vegan recipe that’s pretty simple to make. You could make the ricotta (minus the basil) up to five days in advance. Just keep it in a sealed container in the fridge and stir in the chopped basil when you’re ready to assemble the zucchini involtini.

Hope that you’re having the best summer ever. I can’t believe it’s already August tomorrow! Gotta make these next few weeks count, everybody. Love to you all.

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Print the recipe here!
SERVES: 4, with sides
NOTES: I grilled my zucchini slices, but you could also just give them a quick sear in an oiled skillet over medium heat. You just want to soften them up a bit and get a bit of colour on the edges
-The best tool for slicing uniformly thin zucchini is a Benriner mandolin (affiliate link). I’ve had mine forever and it continues to be one of my most used kitchen tools.
-I went the convenience route and used jarred marinara. Use any recipe that you love if you want to DIY.
-Sprinkles of almond-based “parm” are ideal here! I have a recipe posted here.

1 cup sliced almonds, soaked for at least 1 hour
¼ cup hot water, plus extra if necessary
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons light miso
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
sea salt, to taste
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, finely sliced

2 large zucchinis
olive oil, to cook zucchini
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups prepared marinara sauce, plus extra
chili flakes
chopped fresh basil
almond “parm” (recipe here)

Make the almond ricotta. First, drain the almonds. Then, in a food processor, combine the drained almonds, hot water, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, miso, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Run the motor until you have a smooth, ricotta-like texture, scraping the sides down a couple times. Add more water if necessary. Stir in the basil and set aside in the refrigerator.

Using a mandolin slicer or a very sharp knife, slice the zucchini lengthwise so that you get nice, even noodle-like slices that are still sturdy enough to go on a grill. You’ll need 16-20 total. Transfer slices to a large bowl and toss with enough olive oil, salt, and pepper to coat.

Preheat a grill over medium-high. Lay the slices of zucchini out over the grates and grill until light char marks are visible. Flip the zucchini over and cook until the other side is charred as well. Remove the grilled zucchini from the grill and place on a plate.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the marinara sauce into an 8 to 9-inch round dish.

Set up an assembly line with the grilled zucchini, almond ricotta, an empty dinner plate and the dish with the marinara.

Take one slice of grilled zucchini and lay it out on the dinner plate. Place 1 even tablespoon of the ricotta at the wider base of the zucchini. Carefully roll it up, ensuring that the ricotta doesn’t squeeze out the sides. Carefully place the rolled zucchini in the dish with the marinara. Repeat with the remaining zucchini and almond ricotta.

Once the dish is full and you’ve gone through all of your prep, cover the top of the dish with foil. Bake the zucchini involtini until warmed all the way through, about 25 minutes. Serve zucchini involtini with extra warmed marinara, chili flakes, chopped basil, and almond “parm.”

  • Kristen31/07/2019 - 4:05 pm

    Is there a substitute for the almonds? This looks so good, i have to make this nut free. ThanksReplyCancel

    • Laura01/08/2019 - 6:50 am

      The only appropriate nut-free substitute I can think of is an equal amount of soaked raw sunflower seeds. But even then, I think they may be a touch more gritty than this almond version. Definitely soak them for longer (about 3 hours) if you decide to try it. There’s also a great recipe for tofu-based ricotta on the Sweet Simple Vegan site. You can find it here.

    • CindyMac18/09/2019 - 6:49 am

      I use same amount of raw cashew and works beautifullyReplyCancel

  • […] 5. Zucchini Involtini with Almond Ricotta […]ReplyCancel

  • Sarah02/08/2019 - 1:54 pm

    This looks amazing, Laura! Quick question — if I don’t have easy access to a grill, is there some other way I might prep the zucchini? Or perhaps just save this for a BBQ at a friend’s house? Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah02/08/2019 - 1:55 pm

    Ugh, I just saw your directions above re: prep without a grill! Never mind! Very excited to give this a try!ReplyCancel

  • kozy03/08/2019 - 1:27 pm

    I’m going to the Leslieville FM tomorrow to get zuchs, making the ricotta as I type this (chopping whole, then soaking extra in warm water) … methinks instead of an oven, just gonna stick it back on the BBQ, save on heating the house and electricity ++ additional smokiness perhaps… I’ll let you know
    Love following you in IG! <3ReplyCancel

  • Kayleigh McDougall06/08/2019 - 10:06 am

    Would this work just as well with normal ricotta cheese if you wanted to make it veggie but not necessarily vegan?ReplyCancel

  • […] up your garden zucchini with this recipe for Zucchini Involtini with almond ricotta (The First […]ReplyCancel

  • Misty Pittman11/09/2019 - 7:57 am

    Me and a couple friends made this a few weekends back and it was fantastic! Definitely a fun thing to do with a group (we had an assembly line going), but I also wouldn’t hesitate to make it on a lazy Sunday afternoon and keep all the leftovers to myself. Surprisingly satisfying. We served up with sourdough bruschetta and sparkling wine.ReplyCancel

  • CindyMac18/09/2019 - 6:48 am

    I have made these multiple times now. ALWAYS a huge hit w my GF/Dairyfree fam members. I prefer cashew to the almond but it all works exactly as shown. Delish.ReplyCancel

  • Hilary28/09/2019 - 8:16 am

    I have a soy allergy. Is there a substitute for the miso?ReplyCancel

    • Laura28/09/2019 - 9:29 am

      There are lots of alternative misos available on the market these days. You can get soy-free ones made from chickpeas, barley, and rice. If you can’t find one of these options, I would recommend a teaspoon of coconut aminos.

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