Some time in late June, my modest little backyard garden started spitting out zucchini like whoah. We only plant four or five mounds every year – usually not even an entire seed packets’ worth – but nevertheless, we always end up with more zucchini than we know what to do with. (Exhibit A: the zucchini tag.) Faced with an entire produce drawer of the green stuff, I decided to skip my old standbys – zucchini bread, zucchini pancakes, pasta and zucchini – in search of recipes that are almost pure zucchini. I mean business, yo!
Among the promising possibilities I uncovered? This recipe for Zucchini Fries on health.com, which I promptly got down to veganizing. Along the way I also changed the name, since I find them more reminiscent of mozzarella sticks than french fries. Kind of like the mozz sticks I made for criFSMas 2010, but baked! And no processed vegan cheese! No dairy cheese, either, making my version even healthier than the original. Suck it, “health”.com!
Baked Zucchini Sticks
(for the vegan parmesan)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup walnuts OR almonds
a dash of salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 medium-sized zucchini
1 1/2 teaspoons NRG egg replacement powder + 2 tablespoons warm water (or another egg substitute equivalent to one egg)
1/4 cup nondairy milk, plain
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (or unseasoned breadcrumbs, hand seasoned with your favorite spices – garlic, onion powder, salt, black pepper, etc. – to taste)
1. Begin by making the vegan parmesan. In a food processor, combine the nutritional yeast, walnuts, salt, and olive oil. Pulse until well-blended and “crumbly.” Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 425F. Slice the zucchini into strips 3″ long and about as thick as a medium-cut french fry. Try to cut them as evenly as possible, so they all bake at the same rate. Set aside.
3. Prepare the wet mix: in a small bowl, mix the NRG egg replacer with warm water, whisking well. Add the milk. Set aside.
4. Make the dry mix: combine the parmesan and breadcrumbs in a wide, shallow bowl, mixing well. If using unseasoned breadcrumbs, add extra spices to taste.
5. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray.
6. One by one, dip the zucchini strips in the milk/egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs/parmesan, giving them a quick, gentle shake in between the wet and dry mixes. Place them on the baking sheets, with a little space in between each zucchini stick.
7. Bake at 425F for approximate 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Goes perfectly with pizza! Vegan Happy Hour, holla!
Tip: I found that the dry mix started to “gum up” about halfway through the process, making it difficult to get the breadcrumbs to stick to the zucchini. Try dividing the dry mix between two bowls so you can switch to a fresh bowl when needed.
Tip #2: If you have some zucchini sticks left over, salt them lightly and cook them with the breaded sticks. Still yummy! But be careful: the zucchini sticks without any skin attached – those from the very middle of the zucchini – are fragile and susceptible to breakage, especially when not coated with batter. Be sure to bread those guys first!
Tip #3: The breaded sticks don’t need to be flipped or turned, but the “naked” ones do!
So what should I do with the rest of these bad boys?