Crispy, salty French fries seem to be de rigeur in late-night diners, but, to tell the truth, I can take or leave regular French fries (sweet potato fries are different—I pretty much always take those, but they’re hard to find in most diners). That said, I’ll take a plate of zucchini fries any day. Crispy, battered, fried zucchini, with little pots of creamy ranch or spicy marinara for dipping. Yes, please.
So, when a friend gave me a zucchini the size of my forearm from her garden, I knew a big batch of these was in order.
But since I don’t love deep-frying (both unhealthy and hugely inconvenient), I made my zucchini fries simply and healthfully in the oven. Serve these as an appetizer with dips, or even as a side dish, alongside fish or chicken.
2/3 cup flour pantry
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper pantry
2 eggs $1.50 for 6
1 cup Panko or plain bread crumbs $2.50 for 12 ounces
2/3 cup grated (not shredded) Parmesan, plus a few extra pinches for sprinkling $3.50 for 12 ounces
2 medium or one very large zucchini(s), ends removed, cut into pieces the size of French fries $2
Total estimated cost of ingredients: $9.50
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment (or grease lightly with olive oil). Arrange the oven racks so they are in the middle and middle-lower part of the oven.
Beat the eggs with 2 tablespoons of water and set aside.
Place the flour in a shallow bowl (a pie dish works nicely), stir in the salt and pepper, and set aside.
Combine the Panko or bread crumbs with the Parmesan in a shallow dish (like the aforementioned pie dish) and stir well to combine.
Arrange the ingredients in a line in this order: flour mixture, egg mixture, bread crumb-Parmesan mixture.
To assemble the fries, dredge a piece of zucchini in the flour, shaking off excess. Then dip it into the egg, letting the excess drip away. Finally, dip it into the bread crumb-Parmesan mixture, shaking off excess.
Place the coated zucchini fry on one of the parchment-covered pans and repeat with the remaining zucchini and coatings.
Bake the fries on the prepared racks for 12-13 minutes, then switch them, and bake for another 6-7 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve the fries warm with tomato sauce or a creamy ranch-style dressing for dipping.
Recipe serves 3-4.
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