|Our Finished Zucchini Rolls, Rolls that are easy to prepare, prepare your appetite for this great vegetable recipe!|
Zucchini Rolls– For those of us who love to grow zucchini you know just how heavy a harvest you can end up with. Then the question is: what to do with all those zucchinis? Let me offer up a suggestion. Zucchini ribbon rolls are a super easy way to make a quick appetizer or a great side dish. In fact, if you don’t need the fanciness of the ribbons, you can modify this recipe which I’ll cover in this posting. I’ll be taking the zucchini ribbons to the gas grill which I’ve equipped with wood chunks and provide a subtle smokiness to the zucchini before filling with a flavorful ricotta-basil-Parmesan mixture that easily could be smoked as well. Pick out some of your larger zucchini and get ready to make a super appetizer or side dish with your harvest.
Become a Ribbon Maker
As you likely know, zucchini grows on a vine so when you start, you will find an end that has a growth nub and then a rounded bottom. Both ends need to be trimmed after the entire zucchini has been washed and pat dry.
Although you can make the ribbons on a mandolin, I’ve elected to use a wide vegetable peeler. I located the flattest portion of the zucchini and begin at the stem top down in one peel. This will produce a ribbon of about 1-inch in width. I continue peeling on this side until I begin seeing seeds. I then rotate the zucchini and begin peeling on the opposite side. You can produce as many ribbons as the zucchini will make until it begins to reach tender inner flesh that won’t support a single ribbon peel.
With the long ribbons of zucchini made, I lay them out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. I then brush each ribbon lightly with olive oil before placing on the grill. Since my grill is set up for two zone cooking, the zucchini pan will go on the side with no direct heat meaning all burners on that side are off, while my wood chunks are smoking in the smoker box on the direct heat side. These will only take about 12-15 minutes to flavor with smoke and they do not require any flipping. Just a quick rotation of the pan about halfway through the cooking process.
Remember, zucchini has a lot of water content which makes it ideal of attracting smoke vapor. That means, you need to use hardwoods that are more mild or medium in boldness so the intensity of the smoke flavor is pleasant and not bitter. I like maple, ash, alder, and cherry either alone or in combination.
A Creamy Filling for our Zucchini Rolls
While the zucchini ribbons are cooking with wood flavor, I begin working on the filling for my ribbon rolls. I start by placing 1 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese in a sieve over a bowl to remove any excess liquid. Once transferred to a bowl, I work on chopping some fresh basil from my garden, until I end up with about 3 tablespoons worth. I add that to the ricotta bowl along with 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic. A drizzle of white truffle oil and some fresh ground pepper go in next. Finally, about a ¼ cup of grated Parmesan is added and mixed in well.
You can substitute many other fillings for the one I’ve included. Other ingredients that would work well include goat cheese, chives with some chopped nuts for crunch. Even a dried fruit like cranberry or golden raisins would be a great addition.
Time to Roll
With our filling well mixed, it’s time to return to the grill and remove our ribbons in preparation for filling. If the ribbons are still oily, simply take a paper towel and wipe the residual oil away. You don’t want the ribbons too wet or they won’t hold up when placed back on the grill. Working with a single ribbon at a time, lay a generous dab of the filling in the center of the ribbon and spread to within ½ inch of each end. Starting on one end, gently roll the zucchini ribbon until you have a small spiraled log. Place on a parchment lined sheet pan leaving 1-inch spacing between rolls. Continue with the rest of the ribbons until all are filled. Then return the pan to the grill just to heat the filling up.
I will tell you that you can grill smoke the ribbons to the consistency you prefer you just need to ensure that they stay flexible enough to roll. It is sometimes beneficial to dry these out a bit more before grilling so making the ribbons a day ahead of the actual grill-smoking is helpful. Once tender and warmed inside, remove from the grill and serve. I prefer to place mine on a base of vodka sauce with some fresh basil leaves. These are slightly smoky, creamy and easy to eat. They can be served easily as an appetizer or a side dish to your choice of animal protein. I like these served with a rich short rib or a nice flaky fish like snapper or sea bass. Oh, and don’t forget about that leftover zucchini you’ll have after you’ve made the ribbons. I like to matchstick cut my leftover zucchini and add the remaining cheese filling with a bit of sauce and make this for another side dish or healthy lunch.
What’s your favorite zucchini recipe from the grill? Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on tips, techniques and recipes. Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.