Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute the onions until they are tender and become transparent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Then add the carrots, garlic and thyme. Cook until everything is nice and tender. Stir in the tomato sauce and bay leaf, then cover and simmer over low heat while preparing the zucchini and filling.
Prepare the Zucchini:
While the sauce simmers, slice the zucchini using a mandolin or sharp knife. Lay the slices on the zucchini flat in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle the slices with salt, flip and sprinkle the other side with salt and set them aside for 15 minutes.
Prepare the Ricotta Filling:
In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, egg, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, dried basil, and season with salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste. Mix thoroughly until combined.
Make the Zucchini Lasagna Rolls:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the tomato sauce from the heat, take the bay leaf out of the sauce and discard. Spread about ⅔ of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9x9-inch baking dish; set aside.
Rinse the zucchini slices under cool running water, then pat dry with paper towels. Lay a slice of zucchini out onto a clean work surface. Blot with a paper towel to ensure that it is dry. Spoon some of the ricotta filling onto the zucchini slice. Roll the zucchini slice up and transfer the roll into the prepared baking dish. Repeat the process with the remaining zucchini slices and ricotta filling.
If you have any remaining ricotta filling, spoon it on top of each roll until it is used up. Now, spoon the remaining tomato sauce over the zucchini rolls and sprinkle each with mozzarella cheese, then the parmesan cheese.
Place inside the preheated oven until the cheese starts to brown and the zucchini are tender; about 30 to 45 minutes.
Place 3 zucchini lasagna rolls on a serving plate, garnished with fresh basil, optional.
The Sauce:You can take a shortcut and buy prepared marinara, but trust me, the tomato sauce in this recipe is delicious and doesn’t require a lot of time. It could also be prepared up to 3 days in advance.Salting the Zucchini: Salting the zucchini helps to remove excess water from the slices, which can cause the sauce to become watery. Salt the zucchini slices at least 15 minutes before filling. Make sure you rinse the zucchini well before preparing the zucchini lasagna rolls or they could be too salty.The Zucchini Rolls: If your zucchini rolls start to unroll, you can use toothpicks, but I found that the sauce is enough to hold them closed. If not lean the roll against the side of the baking dish until you have enough zucchini rolls to lean the seams against each other. This will help keep them from unrolling and you don’t have to worry about stabbing yourself in the mouth with a toothpick.Recipe Adapted from Diethood.com
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