This is absolutely my favorite new summer Whole30 dish. Remember that fantastic slicer that quickly became my essential Whole30 tool? It allowed me to slice the zucchini into flawlessly even slices, simplifying this dish tremendously. I brushed them in a bit of olive oil and grilled them for a couple of minutes each side, until almost done and soft, then rolled them with almond cream, topped with my smoky tomato sauce, and baked. They are out of this world and perfect for Whole30, vegan, or anybody who just wants to eat something delicious and healthy.
Smoky Zucchini Roll-Ups with Almond Cream
- 4-5 medium-large zucchini
- 1-2 quarts tomato sauce (homemade, Raos, or your favorite high-quality Whole30 compliant)
- 1-2 Tablespoons smoked paprika (I use 2)
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
For the almond cream
- 2 cups raw, slivered almonds
- 4 cups hot water
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 handful fresh herbs of your choice (I use basil and chives)
Make the almond cream: In a bowl, soak the almonds in hot water. After soaking for at least an hour, remove the almonds and drain them, setting the almond water aside for later use. Place the almonds in a food processor and puree until fine. Once the almonds are really broken down (this takes a few minutes) and the food processor is still running, slowly begin to add the almond water, ¼ cup at a time. The amount of almond water you add depends on how long you’ve soaked the almonds and how much water they have absorbed – the added amount will be between ¼ cup and 1 cup. Once the almond mixture is combined well and smooth enough to spread but still firm, like a thick almond cream, blend in fresh herbs and season generously with kosher salt. Set aside.
I make a homemade smoky paprika tomato sauce that I adore, but here’s a way to dress up someone else’s tomato sauce and make it a little more special. You will want enough tomato sauce to cover the zucchini after they are rolled, which is probably between one and two quarts, but start with one. Heat the tomato sauce and add 1-2 tablespoons smoked paprika and two cloves pressed garlic and stir. Add more smoked paprika to taste (I think it’s good quite smoky).
Slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4-inch pieces, doing your best to make them uniform. I use my electric food slicer to make this easy, but you can use a mandolin. Lightly brush both sides of the zucchini slices with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Make sure your grill is clean, then brush with olive oil. Grill the zucchini slices on medium-high heat, about 4 minutes a side, quickly flipping. Remove and set aside.
Set up a work station with the zucchini and almond cream. Lay out a grilled zucchini plank and place a generous tablespoon of the almond cream about 1-½ inches above the bottom of the plank, so there is room to roll the zucchini. Carefully lift the zucchini at the bottom, place over the filling, and use both hands to gently roll up. To keep your filling intact, transfer the rolled up planks into a ceramic or glass baking dish, placing them so that the zucchini faces up (not the filling). I use two medium dishes, so I can have one batch for now and one for later. At first it may seem hard, but take your time, one by one, to get the hang of it and you’ll realize it’s actually easy and fun. If you have a misfire, you can unroll and start again. After rolling all the zucchini planks, lightly spoon the tomato sauce to cover the zucchini. Bake in the oven at 325 for 25, until bubbly. Feel free to loosely cover with foil if top begins to brown. Serve hot and enjoy!