If there’s one thing I have a hard time with when I’m doing meal-planning, it’s side dishes. I mean, yeah, I can throw together a mean salad to bring to a party, but I’m talking side dishes for dinner every night. This has gotten infinitely harder since I started Weight Watchers because the only “vegetables” my husband will willingly eat are potatoes and corn, which also suck up a whole bunch of my points and those are my ice cream points. Yes, I just admitted to opting for ice cream over something that grows in the ground–wanna fight?
Baked zucchini fries.
Crispy, tender, salty, flavorful, dipped-in-pizza-sauce zucchini fries, fries that taste just like fried zucchini, only so much healthier.
I adapted these fries from Aggie’s Kitchen after I discovered them last fall and they have quickly become a staple at our house. These are easily my kids’ favorite vegetable. They’re a perfect little appetizer (Super Bowl, anyone?), side dish for sandwiches, or even a great after school snack. They’re inexpensive, virtually guilt free, and a totally painless way to get your veggies.
You’ll need about 1 lb. of zucchini, Italian seasoned Panko bread crumbs, a couple of eggs, and some grated parmesan cheese.
If you don’t have or can’t find any Italian-style panko bread crumbs, just add 1/2 tablespoon of Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. onion powder to 1/2 c. plain panko bread crumbs and you’ll be good to go. Either way, mix the bread crumbs with the parmesan cheese and set them aside.
Preheat your oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray the sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
Cut the ends off your zucchini and then cut the zucchini in half so you have two short pieces. Set one half upright and cut it in half lengthwise.
Then cut each of those halves into half again lengthwise,
so you’ll have 4 short, flat planks of zucchini.
Stack two planks on top of each other, the rounded part up, and cut the planks into strips or “fries.” The thinner you cut the pieces, the crispier they will become (and they will also not taste at all like zucchini–this is, shockingly, how the picky eaters at my house prefer them), but the thicker they are, the more zucchini taste they’ll have. I actually really like them both ways, so I do a little bit of both.
Repeat with the remaining zucchini. When done, blot the sticks dry with a paper towel. If you’re not watching calories, you can totally toss the zucchini in a little flour rather than drying them off–it will help the bread crumbs stick. Just place about 1/4 c. of flour in a bag, add the zucchini, and shake the bag around.
Whisk together two eggs in a shallow pie plate.
Set up a little station with the blotted zucchini, eggs, bread crumbs, and the baking sheet. Now…panko crumbs are awesome because they add a lot of crispness and they’re actually lower in calories than traditional bread crumbs. However, they also soak up moisture like a sponge, so if you start dipping the zucchini in the eggs and then rolling the sticks in the entire 1/2 c. of bread crumbs, after a few batches, the bread crumbs won’t stick anymore. So you’ll want to work with about 2 tablespoons of the bread crumb/Parmesan cheese mixture at a time.
Dip the zucchini in the eggs and then shake the sticks to remove any excess egg. Roll the zucchini in the bread crumbs and then place them on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining zucchini, making sure the zucchini pieces aren’t touching each other.
Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes then remove from the oven and flip the fries with a spatula and bake for another 10-12 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown and the zucchini are, for the most part, at least pretty crispy. Serve with our super-easy Pizza Sauce or Ranch Dressing.
Baked Zucchini Fries
Recipe adapted by Our Best Bites from Aggie’s Kitchen
About 1 lb. zucchini
1/2 c. Italian-seasoned panko bread crumbs
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese (the crumbly stuff, not shreds)
Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
Whisk 2 eggs together in a shallow pie plate and set aside.
Cut the ends off the zucchini and then cut the zucchini in half so you have two short, stubby pieces. Set one piece on its end and cut it in half lengthwise. Cut that half in half, making 2 planks. Repeat with the remaining halves (so you’ll get 16 planks per zucchini).
Stack 2 planks on top of each other and cut into strips. Thicker strips will yield “meatier” fries with more zucchini flavor while thin strips will be crispy and taste virtually nothing like zucchini. When all the fries are cut, blot the pieces with a paper towel.
Working with a small handful at a time, dip the zucchini sticks in the egg, shake them to remove any excess, and then roll them in about 2-3 tablespoons of bread crumbs at a time, adding more as needed; you just don’t want to work with all the bread crumbs at once because they’ll soak up moisture from the egg and won’t stick to the zucchini. Place the coated strips on the prepared baking sheet and repeat until all the zucchini strips have been coated.
Bake for 10-12 minutes in the prepared oven then remove from oven, flip the fries, and bake for another 10-12 minutes or until the zucchini is not soggy and the coating is crisp and golden brown. Serve immediately with Pizza Sauce or Buttermilk Ranch Dressing. Serves 6-8 as a side dish.
Weight Watchers Points:
2 (for 8 servings) or 3 (for 6 servings)