Okay. Let me just preface this by saying that I never know what to do with zucchini. It’s plentiful every summer, but short of brushing it with olive oil and a) throwing it on the grill or b) throwing it in the oven, I’m usually at a loss. I don’t find zucchini all that inspiring. It’s too small to stuff anything in there (although I keep seeing recipes for “stuffed zucchini” that, honestly, look more like the poor squash is drowning in melty cheese), and although I like it and will eat it as enthusiastically as anything else when it’s grilled or roasted, it’s not my go-to vegetable side. I really prefer the cruciferous veggies: brussels sprouts, broccoli, broccolini, cauliflower… I also enjoy asparagus, which I realize is not cruciferous, but that’s beside the point. The point being: Zucchini. Confounding.
Anyway. I’ve been having this recurring food daydream (why yes, I do have those) about having a barbecue with turkey burgers, those fancy sandwich thins I love so much, and breaded zucchini fries. But… I’ve never made zucchini fries. So I’ve been researching. Quite thoroughly, I might add. I decided to give it a shot tonight, because I had zucchini and felt like I should take a break from brussels sprouts and play around with this concept that’s been ruminating for the past month.
Of course, I didn’t have an egg. The yummiest looking recipes required at least one egg, but I used my three remaining eggs for my Saturday morning omelet. So I searched the Googles for something a little more adaptive to the ingredients I had on hand. Fortunately, I stumbled upon this recipe. Zucchini? Check. Panko? Check. Ingredients for pesto? Uhh, no. BUT. I have this artichoke pesto I got at World Market and for which I hadn’t yet envisaged a feasible use. So I said to myself, “Self, let’s do this.” And we (myself and I) got cracking on our eggless zucchini fries.
1-2 zucchini (I used about 1.5)
1/4 cup panko crumbs
1-2 tbsp artichoke (or basil, or whatever you have) pesto
cooking oil (I used olive oil spray)
- Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
- Prepare a plate or cutting board by spreading out the panko crumbs. Transfer pesto to a bowl or plate for easy zucchini rolling.
- Cut the zucchini into quarters length-wise, then eighths. Halve the eighths (I know, that’s a lot of math for a Monday night). If you’re not sure what I mean, because I’ve been known to get length-wise and cross-wise confused, see above for visual aid.
- Dip each zucchini piece in the pesto, one by one. Transfer the zucchini piece to a plate of panko and roll it around, making sure the panko sticks, then transfer the zucchini to the cookie sheet. Once you’re done with all the pieces, spray them with cooking oil (I didn’t do this and wish I had – it would’ve browned the panko more effectively).
- Put the zucchini fries in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the panko is browned and the zucchini is cooked through. Mine took about 20 minutes and didn’t brown due to lack of cooking oil, but they were tasty and effectively roasted, so 20 minutes would probably be enough if you don’t forget the spray.
Dinner: Salad with tomatoes, basil, and some other delicious things, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; panko-crusted cod, courtesy of Waterfront Bistro; homemade aioli for cod-dipping; and, of course, zucchini “fries.”
The end product: Basically roasted zucchini (yum) with panko (yum) and artichoke pesto (double yum). For real fries, an egg is probably necessary, but these hit the spot.
Next up: Mini pies. I may or may not be completely serious, I’ve been thinking about these all day today.