Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini Recipe

Hello hello and happy Thursday! You’re almost to the weekend yippee!! For the first weekend in truly months, we are totally free and I am SOOOO excited to get some stuff done around the house and CLEAN and run errands and COOK. Life has been crazy. Good crazy, but crazy nonetheless. I shared this dish from Half Baked Harvest (they also have a new book coming out in October) on my Instagram yesterday and over 20 people DMed me for the recipe!! So I figured I will just share it on here for you all to read!

I found this recipe a week ago and have literally already made it twice. It is super yummy, super flavorful, super healthy, and makes super good leftovers. I go home for lunch every day and it takes 2 minutes to heat these up and they taste as good as the day I made them.

This recipe is literally directly from Half Baked Harvest so I have to give the proper creds here but let me share a couple things that I did different with mine:

  • I grated some gouda cheese on top instead of torn mozzarella because that’s just what I had and it tasted just fine.
  • I also only used ricotta and pesto in the filling because the fontina at Albertson’s was way too expensive.
  • The first time I made it, I used fresh oregano and thyme and the second time, I just used dried oregano and tbh I couldn’t tell that much of a difference.
  • I also used double the amount of crushed tomatoes because I couldn’t find a 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes.
  • Lastly, in the pictures, they show the dish in a cast iron pan and it looks so pretty but this recipe makes a lot of rolls so I just followed the instructions and used a glass 9×13 baking dish.
  • There is also a vegetarian option at the bottom!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground spicy Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (14 ounce) crushed San Marzano tomatoes (or 2 cups tomato sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 large zucchini or yellow summer squash
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
  • 3/4 cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
  • 4 ounces mozzarella, torn
  • fresh basil, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish or dish of similar size.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken sausage and brown all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the bell pepper, tomatoes, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  3. Meanwhile, using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, peel the zucchini into 1/4 inch wide strips and lay them flat on a paper towel lined counter. You should have around 30 strips. Sprinkle the zucchini with salt.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, fontina, and 1/2 cup pesto.
  5. To assemble, spoon 3/4 of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Grab 2 zucchini ribbons and lay them side by side lengthwise. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto the center of the zucchini. Roll into a coil and place each seam-side down in the dish as you go. Repeat with remaining zucchini. Spoon the remaining tomato sauce over top of the zucchini and then drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup pesto evenly over everything. Add the mozzarella.
  6. Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is lightly browned on top. Cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh basil and thyme. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Vegetarian Option: If you’d like to make this vegetarian, no problem, just omit the chicken sausage and use a little more crushed red pepper flakes for heat, if you’d like.

To Make Ahead: Do everything up until the final baking. Cool, and store in the fridge for up to 12 hours. Bake as directed. If there is any excess water on the surface of the sauce, drain this off or blot with a paper towel before baking.

3 thoughts on “Spicy Pesto and Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Involtini Recipe

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