Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oven-baked Zucchini Fries (Are Not Really Fries)

I don't care how many people call them such, zucchini fries are not fries. They are, however, very tasty zucchini sticks. Actually, they're not sticks, either.

Solid straws?
Skinny planks?
Thin logs?
Thickly julienned portions?

I've never deep-fried these before, but given my admiration of fried foods, I can't imagine it would hurt. Does frying ever hurt anything?

Anyway, here is your recipe* for oven-baked zucchini, skinny-sliced-planky-strawed-fries. NO! NOT fries. Whatever. Just eat them! (They are really, truly delicious.) They are, in fact, quite similar to my non-recipe for breaded zucchini slices, only better.
*Here's a confession. I can't find the scrap of paper I jotted the ingredient amounts on as I tossed them in, so the ingredients aren't accurate, but I think they're pretty close. If I find the paper, I'll edit this, but, for now, just use your judgment. It's not rocket science, after all.

If you want enough zucchini for your entire family to eat for lunch (paired with nothing else but dipping sauce), as well as a few handfuls for your mother and sister, as well as a plateful to stick in the fridge, then take

2 medium-large (okay, leaning on the "large" but not yet "baseball bat") zucchini and cut them into "fries."

They can be as thick or thin as you like. I cut more thick than thin because I was in a hurry, but thinner sticks will be crunchier in the end. In a large bowl, mix about 1 cup all-purpose flour with some salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, mix about 4 eggs and a few tablespoons of milk.

In a large bowl dump
about 4 cups of bread crumbs (I make my own from stale Italian bread, which of course makes plain bread crumbs. If you use seasoned crumbs, decrease spices to suit your tastes.)
about 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 and 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
a dash of ground cayenne
a bit of ground paprika
any additional spices you desire
(ground rosemary, Italian seasoning, basil, thyme, etc.).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and drizzle a rimmed baking sheet (or two or three) with extra virgin olive oil.

First, dump the zucchini sticks into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir until the sticks are coated. Second, dip the zucchini sticks into the egg mixture. Third, dredge the sticks in the bread crumb mixture until well-coated. Fourth, place them in a single layer on your oiled baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until browned on the bottom. Flip them and cook for a few additional minutes until browned on all sides and crisp-tender. The total time will depend on how thinly or thickly you slice the zucchini.

While making these, I thought that they'd probably also be yummy flavored with lemon pepper and dill weed paired with a garlic-y tzatziki sauce for dipping. Yum. And then I thought I could dip them in a butter/honey mustard mixture before dredging them in bread crumbs and serving them with more honey mustard, of course. Double yum. I guess I think too much about food when I'm cooking food.

Oh, yes. I made a quick red sauce for dipping by pureeing one quart jar of home-canned tomatoes with one small can tomato paste, salt and sugar in nearly equal amounts to taste, and then rosemary, basil, oregano, parsley, and thyme, to taste.


And because food pictures just wouldn't be the same without the Hand of Mystery, here's Luci.

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