I had such big plans for this blog post. Sunday afternoon was supposed to be spent lazily taking beautiful, day-lit pictures of this recipe being prepared; allowing extra time to exquisitely plate it, and then relax on the couch in my pajamas while typing it up to share with you. The only thing that has come to fruition is that I, at this moment, am wearing my pajamas.
Instead of cooking, I ended up spending all Sunday painting thanks to our most recent home renovation project. Because of this, I hustled this dinner together on a Monday work night with my pantsless 3 year old who demanded to listen to Christmas music while she “helped”. Honestly though, that’s what my blog is about right? So if I can do it under those circumstances you can ABSOLUTELY make this a week night meal. Plus we made some pretty great memories together tonight, so I’m kind of glad it came together this way. She even informed me that I was a great helper!
This recipe is a great one for cutting out those unnecessary processed carbs and uses zucchini strips instead of your standard noodle. While I know a lot of people use mandoline slicers to create these, I actually use a cheese slicer. My poor left handed self struggles with most mandolines. You wouldn’t believe how many things are not made for lefties! Therefore, if you don’t own a mandoline, just go for your cheese slicer. This meal comes together in under an hour and is a family favorite. The addition of italian sausage to the bottled sauce takes the flavor up a notch and makes this a hearty meal that pairs perfectly with a side salad. Feel free to swap out the meat for some sauteed mushrooms or skip it all together to make this a great vegetarian option.
Total time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
4 medium zucchini cut into 24 slices
1 jar marinara sauce
1 lb italian sausage
2 C low fat ricotta cheese
1/2 C chopped basil
2 t chopped garlic
1 1/2 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1 C shredded parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Slice the zucchini lengthwise to create strips until you have approximately 24.
- Season both sides with salt and pepper and place on a plate separated by paper towels to absorb moisture that the salt draws out.
- Place on a grill pan to help dry out the noodles. Cook each side for 1-2 minutes or until the strips are slightly browned. If you don’t have a grill pan, place on a greased cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 425 for 10 minutes. If you do not do this step, the dish will come out very soupy, so don’t cut this corner (trust me I’ve tried).
- Brown italian sausage. You can either use sausages chopped small for the recipe or the ground version.
- Mix ricotta, basil, eggs, parmesan, and garlic a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Scoop 1-2 T of cheese mixture onto each zucchini strip and spread evenly. Roll up strip and place seam side down in 9×13 pan.
- Repeat until all 24 rolls are placed in rows in the pan.
- Mix sausage into the marinara sauce, and then pour in strips along the rows of the rolls. Sprinkle top evenly with mozzarella.
- Cover in foil and bake for approximately 20 minutes.
- Top with additional basil and parmesan to serve if desired.
Meal Prepping Tips:
There’s multiple areas you can meal prep with this recipe- feel free to slice your zucchini strips early and store in a tupperware between layers of paper towels. You can even grill them early and store the same way. Precooking the sausage is another great way to shave time off here.