Pickled red onions are an awesome addition to this dish. Along with the red pepper coulis, they help to create a more complex flavor. If you think about it, the addition of pickled red onion isn’t THAT strange considering that ratatouille is sometimes served with involtini and it has a slightly sour, pickled flavor to it.
This is a multi-component dish and it will definitely help to prepare a few elements ahead of time. You can make the pickled red onions, red pepper coulis, marinara sauce and tofu ricotta a day ahead, unless you have several hours to spend in the kitchen. It sounds like a lot of work, but the most labor intensive component of the dish is the red pepper coulis because you’ll need to roast the peppers and peel them. I recommend getting the marinara going, then while it’s cooking, start on the red peppers. While the red peppers are in the oven, you should have time to make the ricotta and the pickled onions. When I’m making dishes like these, it helps to have a plan of attack and to prep everything ahead of time as much as possible.
I was listening to this band Stephen and I just discovered called Bruce Peninsula. Seriously. Check it out. You don’t hear great music like this anymore! Where did they come from??? Has anyone else ever heard them? I love them. It’s as if Tom Waits and Joni Mitchell had a band baby that plays gospel folk rock. What the hell!? Oh yes.
Recipe Serves 4 (think one squash per person, and each squash depending on the size, yields about 4 rolls)
Marinara Sauce (see recipe) I opted for fresh herbs rather than dried when I made the sauce this time. You can definitely let the sauce cook for longer than 45 minutes. The longer it cooks, the better the flavor.
Roasted Red Pepper Coulis: This is the simple version, but you can also try this as well (Roasted Red Pepper Coulis)
4 red bell peppers
Canola oil (to coat peppers for roasting)
3 tbsp Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat peppers with some canola oil and place onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until skins are evenly “charred”. Be sure to turn the peppers every 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the peppers to cool slightly until you can handle them, then peel away the skins and remove the stems and seeds.
Place into a blender and blend until smooth. With the blender running, add the juices from the pan, along with the olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste. Allow this to cool at room temperature before storing in the fridge.
Pickled Red Onions:
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp beet sugar
Sachet consisting of 1 tsp mustard seed, 1 tsp fennel seed, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns, 2 tsp coriander seeds
*A sachet is basically a little package made by putting some spices into cheesecloth and tying it up so that they don’t disperse into whatever it is you are cooking it in. I ran out of cheesecloth, so I actually used a loose tea infuser ball.
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the onions for about 2 minutes. Strain them and place into a mason jar or small bowl. Bring the remaining ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan, then pour over the onions. Allow the onions to cool to room temperature before storing (covered) in the fridge.
Tofu Ricotta with Fresh Basil:
1 lb extra firm tofu
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
4 yellow squash
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 tbsp safflower or canola oil
Sea salt and pepper to season
Canola oil cooking spray
Fresh basil leaves for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 baking sheets with some cooking spray. Cut ends off of the squash and slice into 1/4-inch thick (or slightly thicker) slices lengthwise. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Pour the flour into a shallow dish. Brush each slice of squash with some of the vinegar and oil mixture. Dredge in the flour, being sure to shake off any excess. Place slices onto baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 30 minutes, turning over the slices halfway through at 15 minutes.
Allow the squash to cool slightly until you can handle them. Spoon a thin layer of marinara on the bottom of a baking dish.
Spread a spoonful of the ricotta onto each squash slice and carefully roll each piece, placing into baking dish, seam side down. Cover the involtini with some of the marinara, enough to coat the top. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Uncover the dish and bake for another 10 minutes or so.
Serve each portion with some roasted red pepper coulis, fresh chopped basil and some pickled onions. Nom nom nom.