A few weeks ago during a relaxed trip to Costco, one where I actually perused all the aisles (except the chips/drinks aisles…I never go down those), I noticed a Roasted Garlic & Chili Aioli sauce. (It was much cheaper at Costco, for the record.) It was low sugar and sounded delicious, so I took a chance and bought the two-pack on a whim. I figured if it was good I could keep one at home and one at work, and if it wasn’t, I’d just donate them both to work. Fortunately for me, it is amazing and I’ve been using it on all sorts of things.
Also a few weeks ago, I decided to give up bread and peanut butter for the month of June. With my marathon training I’ve gained a couple extra pounds and wanted to help myself ditch them a little sooner. Bread and peanut butter are both life staples for me, and I figured if I just gave up one I would end up over-compensating with the other, so ditching both seemed optimal. Terrible, but optimal.
I completed my marathon on Saturday (Horray! I made it!) and will be cutting my miles back a bit to a more manageable weekly schedule. I have a 5k on Saturday and a half (probably) in mid-July, so that’ll help keep up the schedule, just without those crazy 20-milers. I did make a planned exception for bread on race day (huckleberry stuffed French toast and a Monte Cristo for brunch…so good) but otherwise I’ve been really good about my breadless life. Mostly been doing scrambled eggs or a modified version of my favorite green smoothie1 for breakfast, lettuce wraps for lunch, and quinoa bowls or crock pot meals for dinner. The aforementioned aioli has been just fantastic for adding flavor and a little kick to those wraps and quinoa bowls.
Another favorite lunch are these zucchini rollups. They are super easy and only take a few minutes to prepare, which makes them great for both during work and after. I like to broil mine for a couple minutes (we have a toaster oven at work) for melty cheese, but you can absolutely eat them cold and crunchy as well.
Thin zucchini (use a mandolin, trust me) is topped with whatever you want, then rolled up into a tasty wannabe sandwich. My go-to concoction is listed below, but really you can use almost anything. Meat-lover? Use extra slices or multiple varieties. Vegetarian? Nix the meat and add extra veggies. Vegan? Sub hummus or pesto for the aioli, ditch the meat and cheese, and load up on leafy greens, peppers, mushrooms, or whatever else you’re in to. Savory cream cheeses are delightful as a condiment (you can ditch the regular cheese, or not), basically any cheese will work as long as it’s sliced thinly or a soft cheese, and you can mix it up with ham, turkey, roast beef, pepperoni, or whatever your favorite sliced meat is.
For extra crunch or to up the veggie factor, thinly sliced bell peppers, carrots, onion, extra zucchini, cucumber, or whatever you have lying around will work just great. Cut it to the width of your zucchini slices and you are good to go. If you are adding sliced or shredded items, it works best to add them on top of your condiment to kind of glue everything together. Add a couple of layers of spinach, kale, chard, or whatever you have lying around and you have a tasty and well-rounded meal, easily tailored to your preferences for taste and portion sizing.
I find the zucchini slices will keep in the fridge for at least a week if they are submerged in water, so you can slice and dice all your veggies ahead of time to speed up the preparation process when you’re ready to make them. Use as little or as much of each topping as you like, just leave a couple of inches of one end empty so it’ll stay rolled up. However, if, like me, you get a bit overzealous sometimes, you can poke a toothpick through to secure them.
Great for lunch, dinner, or even as an appetizer, these zucchini rollups are a delicious and healthy (and low carb, and can be gluten-free, if you’re into that) option to have in the repertoire. I’ve not tried it, but I am sure they would keep in the fridge for a few hours after being assembled if you need to make them ahead of time.
Give them a try and be sure to report back with your favorite flavor combinations!
Easy Zucchini Rollups
1 large zucchini
Cheese, thinly sliced (I used cheddar)
Meat, thinly sliced (I used deli ham)
Aioli sauce (or condiment of choice)
Topping ideas: thinly sliced bell pepper, julienne-cut carrots or zucchini, any leafy greens, cream cheese, pesto, honey mustard, sliced almonds, hummus, etc
- Use a mandolin or a lot of patience to very thinly slice a zucchini. If it is too thick they will just break instead of roll. (I used the thinnest setting on my mandolin.) Store slices submerged in water in the fridge until ready to use.
- Start the broiler on your oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Press zucchini slices with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, and lay gently on the baking sheet.
- Layer zucchini with meat, cheese, aioli, and spinach (and any additional toppings), leaving about 2″ of the wider end completely empty.
- Gently roll from the filled end, securing with a toothpick if necessary (mainly depends on how thick your toppings are.)
- Broil 1-2 minutes, until cheese is melted. Note: it is likely that your paper and toothpicks will char, but the rollups will be perfect.
- Enjoy immediately!
1 Made as said in the recipe except substitute 3Tbsp PBfit for peanut butter (another Costco whim), use plain Greek yogurt, and 1/2 cup milk. I also add 2 Tbsp chia seeds to 5 Tbsp water, let sit until gelled, and add that too. I also freeze and crush my spinach ahead of time so I can fit in closer to 1.5 cups in my little blender, with the added benefit that I don’t have to blend things in two stages to make sure it’s finely pureed.