Zucchini Involtini

Featuring a ground beef filling rolled in thin strips of zucchini, Zucchini Involtini is an elegant yet simple Italian dish. Enjoy as an entree or appetizer.

Overhead view of zucchini involtini in a casserole dish

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It’s the time of the year when an excess of zucchini appears to be everywhere. If you’re looking for a new way to use it, consider this Zucchini Involtini recipe.

Involtini is a classic Italian appetizer and this iteration features thin strips of zucchini rolled and filled with a mixture of ground beef and spinach, then baked with my favorite marinara sauce and lots of cheese.

Simple yet satisfying and the end result looks quite elegant. Involtini is typically served as an appetizer but I love to turn this into a summer dinner, with a side of rice.

Involtini di zucchine in a bowl with rice pilaf

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Zucchini – You’ll want large zucchini for this recipe, as they need to be big enough to create long strips you can roll.
  • Olive oil
  • Onion & garlic – These aromatics add extra flavor to the dish.
  • Fresh spinach – Added to the beef filling.
  • Ground beef – Be sure to use lean ground beef so that there’s not an excess of grease.
  • Salt & pepper
  • Pasta sauce – You can use my homemade marinara sauce or your favorite jar of pasta sauce.
  • Cheese – You’ll need slices of mozzarella for the filling as well as shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan for topping the dish. It’s always best to grate or shred the cheese from the block yourself.
  • Basil – Fresh basil makes the perfect garnish to involtini zucchini.
Involtini di zucchine ingredients

Recipe Variations

There are many different variations of Involtini that you can make. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Use eggplant. Eggplant can be used instead of zucchini to make this recipe for Involtini.
  • Make a ricotta cheese filling. You can opt for a cheese-only filling instead of ground beef, if you prefer a vegetarian dish. I’ve included more on this below.
  • Swap ground beef for turkey. To make this dish a bit lighter, ground turkey can be used in place of ground beef.

Not only does the recipe have variations so does the name This recipe can also be called:

  • Involtini di Zucchine
  • Zucchini Rollatini

How To Make Zucchini Involtini

Prepare the Zucchini: To begin making your involtini zucchini, wash the zucchini and trim the ends. Use a mandolin to cut the zucchini lengthwise into 1/8″ slices. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cook the garlic and onions: Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. Cook the onions for about a minute, then add the garlic and simmer for an additional minute. Toss in the spinach and saute until just wilted, which will happen quickly.

Cook the beef: Add the ground beef to the pan and use a wooden spoon to break up the beef into small pieces. Once cooked and no longer pink, remove the beef from the heat and drain any excess fat.

Assembly: Add a cup of pasta sauce to the bottom of a baking dish with high sides. Any 8×8 pan, either round or square, will do.

Layer two pieces of the thinly sliced zucchini on a flat surface, so that they are overlapping. Add two slices of the halves mozzarella cheese on top of the zucchini lengthwise. Spoon about two tablespoons of the seasoned beef mixture over the top of the cheese.

Carefully roll the zucchini and secure it with a toothpick to stand up in the sauce. You can also lay the zucchini rolls with the seam side down in the pan. Just note that you may need a larger dish if that’s what you opt for.

If using the standing-up method, top the Zucchini Rollatini with the remaining beef.

Bake: Drizzle the remaining pasta sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the Involtini from the oven and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

Close up of involtini zucchini in a dish

Can I Make Vegetarian Zucchini Involtini?

Absolutely. Involtini di Zucchine is actually frequently made with ricotta filling instead of beef, which is the perfect variation for vegetarians.

To make the ricotta filling, omit the onion and garlic. Saute the chopped spinach in olive oil, cool, and then mix into 1 1/2 cups of ricotta cheese. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and the zest of one lemon, then season with salt and pepper for flavor.

Super easy, super tasty!

Close up of involtini di zucchini

Common Questions

Here are a few common questions about this Involtini zucchini recipe that may help you.

What does Involtini mean?

Involtini means a small bite of food with an outer layer wrapped around a filling. It comes from the word “involto” which refers to a filling that is wrapped in something. Involtini is the small bites version of the world.

Where does the dish Involtini originate from?

Involtini is an Italian dish that’s been around for hundreds of years. No one knows exactly when or how the dish was created, though the ingredients suggest it was originally a “poor people recipe”, as a way of making the limited ingredients they had quite tasty.

What if I don’t have a mandolin for the zucchini?

If you don’t have a mandolin, you can also use a vegetable peeler to create slices of zucchini. Alternatively, you can use a knife to create thin slices as well.

Can I use frozen spinach?

Yes, however, you should thaw it and then press out any excess water first.

What does it mean to chiffonade the basil?

To chiffonade basil means to cut it into ribbons or strips. To do this, stack the basil leaves together, roll them tightly, and then create thin slices. When you unroll them, you’ll have ribbons.

Overhead view of a dish of zucchini involtini with rice

Can This Dish Be Prepared In Advance?

Yes! While this is a simple recipe, rolling the Involtini can take some time. If you want, you can assemble the dish in advance, cover, and refrigerate for up to a day.

Bake directly from the refrigerator. You may need to add a few minutes to the bake time.

Involtini zucchini topped with mozzarella cheese

What To Serve With Involtini di Zucchine

Due to their bite-sized nature, Involtini are typically served as appetizers. They’re a beautiful appetizer for a “fancy” dinner, when you want to impress guests with restaurant-quality food.

You can also easily turn Involtini di zucchini into a meal. I like to serve it with a side of rice or another grain. Panzanella salad also makes a great side or you can opt for a fresh Caesar or garden salad with a side of crusty bread.

Proper Storage

Store Zucchini Rollatini in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. For best results, reheat in the oven though the microwave works too in a pinch.

You can also freeze this dish. Allow to cool completely, transfer to a freezer-safe container, and freeze for up to a month. Bake in the oven from frozen or thaw in the fridge then reheat. Note that the zucchini may release some water as it thaws.

More Dinner Recipes To Try

Overhead view of zucchini involtini in a casserole dish

Zucchini Involtini

Alisa Infanti | The Delicious Spoon
Featuring a ground beef filling rolled in thin strips of zucchini, Zucchini Involtini is an elegant yet simple Italian dish. Enjoy as an entree or appetizer.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 110 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 large zucchini
  • 3 tbsp olive oil; divided
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach; roughly chopped
  • ½ lb lean ground beef
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 ½ cup of pasta sauce
  • 12 slices of mozzarella cheese; cut in half
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 ½ tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil; cut chiffonade style

Instructions
 

  • Wash the zucchini and trim the ends. Use a mandolin to cut the zucchini lengthwise into 1/8″ slices. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Add two tablespoons of the olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. Cook the onions for about a minute, then add the garlic and simmer for an additional minute. Toss in the spinach and saute until just wilted, which will happen quickly.
  • Add the ground beef to the pan and use a wooden spoon to break up the beef into small pieces. Once cooked and no longer pink, remove the beef from the heat and drain any excess fat.
  • Add a cup of the pasta sauce to the bottom of a baking dish with high sides. Any 8×8 pan, either round or square, will do.
  • Layer two pieces of the thinly sliced zucchini on a flat surface, so that they are overlapping. Add two slices of the halves mozzarella cheese on top of the zucchini lengthwise. Spoon about two tablespoons of the seasoned beef mixture over the top of the cheese.
  • Carefully roll the zucchini and secure it with a toothpick to stand up in the sauce. You can also lay the zucchini rolls with the seam side down in the pan. Just note that you may need a larger dish if that’s what you opt for.
  • If using the standing up method, top the Zucchini Involtini with the remaining beef.
  • Drizzle the remaining pasta sauce over the top. Sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the involtini from the oven and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1pieceCalories: 110kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 7gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 279mgPotassium: 251mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3g

Notes

Storage and Freezing:
Store Zucchini Involtini in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. For best results, reheat in the oven though the microwave works too in a pinch.
You can also freeze this dish. Allow to cool completely, transfer to a freezer-safe container, and freeze for up to a month. Bake in the oven from frozen or thaw in the fridge then reheat. Note that the zucchini may release some water as it thaws.
Substitution:
Frozen spinach can be used in lieu of fresh but be sure to thaw completely and use paper towels to squeeze out excess water.
Ground turkey can be used instead of ground beef.
Please Note:

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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