These meaty zucchini mushroom rolls are one of my new favorite recipes. A good marinara sauce and Beyond Beef filling, rolled up into zucchini strips – it’s so deliciously Italian and satisfying.
I have been cooking Italian food since I was nineteen years old. Recombining nearly the same ingredients for a variety of delicious dishes was something I always enjoyed. Though I like a good vegan pasta dish, it’s also nice to make dishes that are noodle-free. And it’s possible for a non-pasta italian dish to be filling, too!
You can vary many of the ingredients in this recipe. I’ve used my own homemade marinara here for the sauce. The “meat” filling is Beyond Beef ground mixed with onions, garlic, and my own homemade vegan parmesan. But you can also use your favorite jar of marinara. For the “beefless” meat, you can use Gardein Beefless Grounds or any other favorite vegan ground beef substitution. Or you can increase the amount of chopped up mushrooms and use those as the main filling ingredient. You can add your favorite vegan parmesan, too, instead of making the homemade (although my homemade is very good).
When grilling the zucchini slices, be sure to take your time, so they become soft enough to roll up with filling in them. I test the zucchini slices by gently folding them over, not flat, but just so that one half can be parallel to the part still on the grill. Once you can do that, the slices are ready. Be careful not to overcook them, or the seedy middles will start to fall out of the slices (yes, I did that once). As you roll up the filled zucchini slices, use at least one toothpick to keep each roll together. Some of them might require two toothpicks. Don’t worry too much about the toothpicks being ugly, just be sure to remove them before serving.
I always add a little bit of butter to my homemade pasta sauce, to cut the acidity. My friend’s Italian grandmother told me to use a pinch of cinnamon in marinara sauce. It also helps to cut any acidity and makes the sauce a little bit more mellow and less bitter. Believe it or not, the cinnamon makes the tomatoes taste sweeter. Some people add a pinch of sugar to their sauces, but I never have.
Meaty Zucchini Mushroom Rolls
A fresh tasty vegan Italian dish, great for dinner or lunch. Serve as a main dish or a side - great with salad or pasta!
To make the sauce:
Place all of the sauce ingredients into a medium saucepan: the diced tomatoes, strained tomatoes, olives, basil, garlic, garlic salt, cinnamon and vegan butter. Slowly bring the sauce to a simmer and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
To make the filling:
In a large skillet, brown the Beyond Beef, along with the chopped mushrooms, cooking until the "meat" is browned thoroughly. Remove from the skillet and place into a small mixing bowl.
In a separate small skillet, cook the chopped onion in 1 teaspoon of oil until the onion is translucent and starting to turn brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the onion mixture to the "meat" and mushrooms in the mixing bowl.
Add the vegan parmesan and mix the filling to form a kind of chunky paste.
To prepare the zucchini:
Remove the ends of the zucchinis and slice each zucchini into 1/4-inch thick slices, lengthwise, until you have 16 good slices. Salt and pepper both sides of the zucchini slices.
Heat your panini maker or griddle to medium high and grill the zucchini slices until each one is pliable enough to roll up. Take your time with this step, so each zucchini is cooked thoroughly, being careful not to over cook them (or the seedy centers will fall out).
To assemble & bake the rolls:
In a large oven safe skillet or casserole dish, spread one cup of the marinara sauce evenly over the bottom of the dish.
On each zucchini slice, put about one tablespoon of the meaty filling, spreading evenly along the zucchini slice. Carefully roll up each slice, putting a toothpick or two in to hold the roll together. Place each roll on its side in the baking dish.
Once all of the rolls are assembled and evenly placed in the baking dish, spoon about 1 tablespoon of the remaining sauce over each roll, until all of the sauce is used. Top the rolls with the chopped fresh basil leaves.
Cover the baking dish or cast iron skillet with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and take out any toothpicks, if used. Serve hot, topped with additional vegan parmesan.