Holiday Entertaining 2000: Small Goes Global

  Seared and Marinated Zucchini and Sheep's-Milk-Ricotta Rolls in Mint Dressing

The Chef

Makes about 20 to 24 rolls.

4 zucchini
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces imported Italian sheep's-milk ricotta
1 rounded tablespoon toasted pignoli nuts (toasted in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes)
1 rounded tablespoon finely chopped raisins
1 rounded tablespoon finely chopped pitted dates
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon vincotto (available in BuonItalia in Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Ave.); balsamic vinegar can be substituted
1 tablespoon finely shredded mint
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Cooking Instructions
Cut the zucchini lengthwise into 1/5-inch-wide slices. Discard the two outside green slices from each zucchini. Set the slices on a large plate and season with 2 tablespoons oil, and salt and pepper. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat and sear the slices on both sides until pale golden; set aside on a large platter to cool. Repeat with remaining slices.

Combine the ricotta, pignoli, raisins, and dates in a bowl. In another bowl, mix together the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, vinegar, honey, vincotto, mint, and Worcestershire sauce.

When the zucchini reaches room temperature, place a spoonful of the ricotta mixture at one end of each strip of zucchini and roll up. Serve the rolls on individual plates, 3 or 4 pieces each, topped with the dressing.