Zucchini Roll Ups with Vegan Ricotta Cheese
We experimented with making some vegan ricotta, and were amazed at how well it turned out. The only thing we didn't plan was what to enjoy the ricotta with. With only some zucchini and spinach in the fridge, Suzy had the idea to create little zucchini roll-ups.
Full disclaimer: I've never been a fan of raw zucchini anything. Zucchini noodles have never been my jam, so I wasn't super keen about the idea of zucchini roll-ups, but with no other options Suzy went for it.
She made a batch and I was surprised at how beautiful they looked, all rolled up, but I had to head out for the day so I never got a chance to try it before she was finished photographing. The next morning, Robin and I returned to the studio and looking through the fridge I wanted to offer him something to eat. I saw these in a container, and I plated it to him, not telling him what it was. He had a few bites, and turned to me and said, "these are really good, how did you make it?" I was super surprised. I still hadn't tried it myself. I took a bite, and then went ahead and put the rest of it on my own plate. Incredible. Looks like Suzy will be making the PUL recipes from here on out!
If you're every going to a potluck and want to bring something nutritious and delicious, try this recipe!
Food prep hack: this is a great way to use up the packs of croutons that come with ready-made salads. They are already toasted and seasoned, so they make the perfect quick bread crumbs.
Zucchini roll ups with vegan ricotta cheese
▸ ▹ Vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free
Yield: 3-4 servings Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 15 min Total Time: 30 min (excluding soaking time for ricotta)
2 cups (100 g) spinach
1 can (400 g) tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp (15 g) tomato paste
2 tsp (10 g) nutritional yeast
1 tsp (5 g) oregano
1 tsp (5 g) Italian spice mix
1/2 tsp curry powder
Ground pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup garlic croutons, crushed into crumbs*
1/2 recipe cashew ricotta
INGREDIENTS: vegan ricotta
1 cup (125 g) cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours or over night
1/2 cup (125 ml) unsweetened plant milk (or sub water)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) apple cider vinegar (or 1/2 fresh lemon)
2 tsp (10 g) nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tsp (5 ml) olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: For the Ricotta Cheese (makes 2 cups)
Drain cashews and place in food processor or blender with all other ingredients. Blend until creamy, scraping down sides as needed. Add more liquid if needed to achieve a smooth, ricotta-like consistency. Adjust spices and flavour to your liking (more nutritional yeast for cheesy flavour, more lemon or vinegar for acidity, etc.).
Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Enjoy on soups, salads, or in appetizers like this!
Directions: For the Roll Ups
Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F).
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zucchini into long strips.
Wilt the spinach by microwaving in a microwave-safe bowl for 1-2 minutes, tossing after each minute.
To a medium bowl add the tomato sauce, garlic, tomato paste, nutritional yeast, oregano, Italian spice, curry powder, and pepper. Mix together.
Layer about 1/2 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 23 cm x 15 cm (9 x 6 inch) baking dish.
On a plate or other flat surface, place 1 strip of zucchini and then spread a thin layer of ricotta along the length. Place some wilted spinach on top of that before rolling it into a spiral. Place the seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat until your dish is full or until you run out of zucchini.
Top the rolls with the remaining tomato sauce. Blitz the croutons in a blender to make a rough bread crumb (or crush with an unopened can or rolling pin), and sprinkle over the tomato topped rolls. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until the crumb is golden brown and the tomato sauce is bubbling. Remove from oven and enjoy while warm!
* You can substitute the croutons for bread or panko crumbs, just add a sprinkle of some garlic and onion powder, and dried herbs like basil, oregano, or thyme to flavour it.
Make-ahead: this recipe can be made ahead to enjoyed the next day!
Storage: store the roll-ups in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. The ricotta alone can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.