Zucchini seems to be one of the most stuff-able vegetables. They can be halved lengthwise and scooped into little boats, then filled and baked; or hollowed out into tubes, stuffed and simmered in sauce.
Here's yet another way to fill a summer squash, one much more in line with the relaxed, outdoor cooking and eating the season calls for. It starts with fresh zucchini sliced lengthwise into planks, brushed with oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and grilled. But instead of stopping there, it gets used in an exciting new way as a wrapper for fresh, tasty fillings.
In the accompanying recipe, each tender, char-grilled zucchini ribbon gets a dollop of lemon and garlic-seasoned white bean mash spooned onto one end. It's then topped with peppery arugula and floral basil, then rolled up into a beautiful bite-size bundle that tastes like a mouthful of summer — light and fresh, filled with garden flavors, and backed by the substance of creamy beans. What makes this recipe fun is how flexible it is — any type of bean or a different creamy filling — think goat or feta cheese whipped with herbs — can be substituted for the beans. And, any combination of tender leaves and herbs — such as baby kale, spinach or Bibb lettuce and parsley, cilantro, mint or dill — can be used.
However you stuff it, this delightfully different dish is ideal as a snack, starter or as a part of small plates, and one that will give you a whole new perspective on the possibilities of simply grilled zucchini.
Grilled Zucchini Roll-Ups
3 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces each)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
½ teaspoon finely minced garlic (1 clove)
½ cup low-sodium canned white beans, such as cannellini, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups (2 ounces), lightly packed baby arugula
Heaping ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
Trim the tops and bottoms off the zucchini, then slice them lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices using a sharp knife or mandolin. Set aside the outermost slices of zucchini for another use. Brush the center slices on both sides using 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the zucchini until tender and grill marks have formed, about 3 minutes per side.
Place the garlic onto a cutting board and sprinkle with about ¼ teaspoon salt. Using the flat side of the knife and dull edge of the blade, mash the garlic and salt together to form a paste; transfer to a small bowl. Add the beans, lemon juice and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and black pepper to taste. Using a fork, smash the ingredients together to form a chunky mash.
Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the bean mixture ½-inch from the end of a zucchini slice. Top with a few arugula leaves and 1 small or ½ large basil leaf. Roll the zucchini slice up and place seam side down on a platter. Repeat with the remaining zucchini, beans, arugula and basil.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 135 calories, 6 g protein, 8 g fat, 10 g carbohydrate (no sugar), no cholesterol, 265 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 1.