NO PASTA Zucchini Ravioli Rolls

July 27, 2022

By Anna Varriano

One of my favourite childhood special occasion meals was my mom’s ravioli. I loved the filling and would often ‘sneak’ tastes of it when I helped her make them. I would sometimes even open up the ravioli that were served and just eat the filling, leaving the pasta behind. I have never made my mom’s ravioli as I typically avoid pasta; however, I ‘sort of’ made them during my many attempts to come up with different ways to use the 1,263,603 zucchinis from our garden this season … and there is no end in sight!

My mom never followed a recipe, so I had to play it by ear when I was making the filling and I think I pretty much nailed it. Dare I say that these no pasta ravioli are as delicious as hers. If you can’t be bothered with making the little rolls, you can make a zucchini lasagna instead, with layers of zucchini slices, then filling, then sauce, then cheese, then repeat until you run out of one of them!

If you are looking for more ways to use zucchini, you may also want to check out my other zucchini recipes: stuffed zucchini, zucchini fritters with chickpea flour, and zucchini ‘spaghetti‘… but first, take a look this NO PASTA zucchini ravioli roll recipe. Mmmmm!!!

You Will Need:

  • 3 or 4 or 5 medium-sized zucchini. More is better as some slices may not work … and I’ll let you know how you can enjoy the ‘rejects’ and extra slices so nothing gets wasted!
  • 1 or 2 650ml jars of your favourite spaghetti sauce … or if you have time … make your own. You can freeze what you don’t use. I always like to error on the side of having too much sauce as there’s nothing worse than running out of sauce in the middle of making a dish like this! I don’t include instructions for making your own spaghetti sauce, so if you go this route, you’ll have to have it ready to go before starting this recipe.
  • 1 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup of cooked spinach (you’ll need a 10oz/284g bag of fresh spinach if you’re going to cook your own – you can use thawed frozen spinach too)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese (I use Reggiano Parmigiano)
  • 1 cup of minced cooked chicken (can omit if you want it to be vegetarian). You could use any leftover cooked chicken as long as it’s not something overly spiced, but my mom always used a chicken breast that she had poached; well in fact, she used it to make chicken broth (efficient!). That’s what I did. Then you’ll have a lovely, delicately flavoured poached chicken breast to use in this recipe AND chicken broth to use another time. You’ll have to have the cooked chicken ready to go before starting this recipe.
  • salt and pepper
  • a mandolin (unless you have amazing knife skills and can make uniformly thin zucchini slices!)

Step 1: Prep the Zucchini

I used a large skillet for this step and did it in 2 batches

Get some salted water up to a simmer in a large sauce pot or skillet. Using a mandolin, slice the zucchini lengthwise. I used the middle setting of my mandolin. I would say the slices were 1/8 of an inch thin. Put the zucchini slices in the simmering water just for a minute or two – just long enough so they become pliable so they don’t break when you roll them. Don’t overcook them or you will have mush! Once they are done, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and make them cool enough to handle.

You want them to be pliable but not mushy!

This next step is really important because zucchini have a high water content and you don’t want to end up with zucchini soup! Lay the zucchini slices on paper towel, or a dishcloth, or an old tablecloth … anything that you can lay them on that will absorb moisture, and that you can also pat the slices dry with. If any of the zucchini slices aren’t in good shape for making rolls, set them aside. They are delicious served as a cold salad with a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Waste not, want not!

Step 2: Prep the Spinach

Whether you are using cooked frozen spinach or cooking your own, the trick is to SQUEEZE ALL THE WATER OUT! If you are using frozen spinach, let it thaw then squeeze the water out. If you are using fresh spinach (my mom always did) save yourself sometime and buy one that is triple-washed. Bring a large pot of water to boil, dump the bag of fresh spinach into it and cook it for 1 or 2 minutes, just until it is wilted. Drain it in a colendar, rinse with cold water until you can handle it without burning yourself … because you’ll need to squeeze it well! Once you have squeezed the spinach, dice it up. It always amazes me how a huge bag of fresh spinach turns into a handful of cooked spinach. You want to end up with about a cup of finely chopped/diced spinach – a little more or less is OK – no worries!

I only had 2 or 3 inches of simmering water in this pot when I added the bag of fresh spinach. It was overflowing … then I just pushed it all down into the water and let it cook for a minute or two and it reduced to this …

Step 3: Make the Filling

For this step, make sure the spinach and chicken are fully cooled so you don’t end up with weird scrambled eggs! In a bowl, mix 1 cup of ricotta cheese, 1 cup of finely chopped cooked spinach, 1 cup of minced chicken, 1 egg, 4 TBSP (ish) of parmesan cheese, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix it well until it is fully blended. A good trick is to beat the egg up a bit first. You can do it before you add it to the bowl or in the bowl. You should end up with something that looks like this:

Step 4: Roll Time!

Place a heaping tsp of filling on to the WIDE end of each zucchini slice (I lined them all up that way before I placed the filling), then using your fingers, shape the filling so that it is a tidy little ball that isn’t hanging out over the sides of the zucchini slice. Roll up each zucchini slice,  using your finger tips to gently keep the filling even with the edges. Keep on filling and rolling until you’ve run out of zucchini slices or filling. I ended up with extra filling, so I just prepped more zucchini slices until all the filling was used up. If you end up with extra zucchini slices, remember my salad suggestion earlier! You should end up with rolls that look like this:

Aren’t they cute? :)

Step 5: Assemble and Bake

You should have enough rolls to at least fill the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. If not, choose a smaller baking dish. Start by placing some sauce in the bottom of the baking dish:

Then place your rolls on the sauce:

One roll short to have a 4 x 9 matrix!

Then cover the rolls with sauce, then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and some parmesan cheese – suit your cheesy taste as to how much or how little. If you still have more rolls, you can make a second layer in the same baking dish or make a second dish. I ended up with a 9 x 13 dish and a few single serving sizes. The good news is that this dish freezes beautifully before or after you bake it … which is done at 350F for about 20 minutes. Broil for 1 or 2 minutes at the end for a bubbly golden cheesy top. 

One layer of rolls in a 9 x 13 baking dish
2 layers of rolls in a single serving freezer baking dish
Baked and ready!



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