Rotolini di Zucchini con Ricotta (Ricotta-Stuffed Zucchini) by Elizabeth Minchilli
This elegant little antipasto couldn’t be easier. Although Maria Grazia uses ricotta, I’ve made it often with goat cheese. It’s the perfect starter during summer, when zucchini are at their best, and the addition of mint and poppy seeds not only adds texture and flavor, but also creates a pretty contrast to the whiteness of the ricotta.
4 medium zucchini, trimmed
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch of fresh mint, leaves only
1½ cups of fresh ricotta
½ cup of poppy seeds
Fresh sage or basil leaves, for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling (preferably your best variety)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Using a sharp knife or mandoline, cut the zucchini lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick ribbons. (You should end up with at least 12 full-length, unbroken ribbons.) Place the zucchini in one layer on one or two baking sheets. Season them with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, half of the mint, and salt to taste and bake them for about 10 minutes, until just tender. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
In the meantime, place the ricotta in a medium bowl with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the rest of the mint, roughly chopped. Using a fork, whip it until smooth and creamy.
Place about 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture on each strip of zucchini and roll it up. Place the poppy seeds in a shallow bowl. Dip both flat ends of the rolls in the poppy seeds, coating the ricotta.
To serve, place two or three rolls on individual plates. Garnish each roll by placing a sage or basil leaf on top and tucking the ends in so that it follows the curve of the roll. Drizzle with your best extra-virgin olive oil and serve.
© The Italian Table: Creating Festive Meals for Family and Friends, by Elizabeth Minchilli, Rizzoli, 2019. All images credited © Elizabeth Minchilli.