Friday, May 4, 2012

Fried Zucchini

   The first time I had fried zucchini, I was little and my mother made it. (You know how good of a cook she proclaims to be - awful.) I was very hesitant to try it, but she was really enjoying it, and kept telling me how good it was going to be.  So I gave into my mother's peer pressure and tried it. I really enjoyed it. I only had it a time or two, and I was small enough that I didn't try to figure out what was in the coating; I just thought it tasted good. (That's saying a lot because I really disliked squash of any kind when I was younger. Now I love them all - isn't it funny how we evolve?)
   So, as I got older, and I started eating out on my own, I learned that some of the local fast-food places sold fried zucchini. The restaurants would slice the squash in long strips, batter and deep-fry them, and serve them along side some ranch dressing for dipping. I really enjoy this deep-fried, fast-food version but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the pan-fried coated circles of squash I fell in love with when I was little. I never asked my mom what she used. (She probably wouldn't remember anyway. She knows she's very forgetful. One of her many lovable quirks.)
So, I came up with my own. This was the kids after school snack the other day, and it didn't take too long to whip up (maybe 30 minutes). I did 5 squash, but it would take considerably less time if you only needed to do 1 or 2 squash.

Here's what I did:
I cut each clean squash into 1/4 inch circles, discarding the ends.

One one plate I cracked an egg and added a splash of water.

I whipped that together with a fork and set it aside.

On a separate plate I put 1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal and 1/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs, some salt, granulated garlic and onion powder. I just mixed it all together with my fingers.

I dipped each piece of squash into the egg wash,

and then into the breading.

After each piece was breaded (this was only about 1/3 of what I did), I stacked them on a plate and headed to the stove.

In the largest skillet I have (so I can cook more at once), I put a little olive oil. I don't want to deep-fry the squash. Just shallow, pan-fry it, so you don't need much.

When the oil was hot, I put the squash in, and cooked over medium high heat.

A couple minutes later, they started to get golden on one side, so I used a spatula to flip them over.

When they were brown on both sides, I drained them on some paper towels.

The first batch didn't turn out as crispy as I would have liked, so I added some cornstarch to the second batch. (This is a secret I learned by watching the Food Network. If you want something fried to be extra crispy, add cornstarch!)

I mixed it all together and then breaded and fried the rest of my squash just like before. I served them up with ranch dressing. What else? (I have heard of some people using maraniara sauce for dipping, but that's not done around here.)
Pop one in your mouth. Enjoy the crunchy outside and soft inside. Convince yourself it's healthy because it is squash after all. Swallow, repeat.
Here's the recipe:

Fried Zucchini

5 small zucchini or Italian squash, washed
egg wash (one egg mixed with a splash of water)
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
olive oil

Cut each squash into 1/4 inch slices. Mix the egg wash on a large plate or in a bowl. On a second plate or bowl, mix together the cornmeal, breadcrumbs, cornstarch, garlic, onion and salt. Run each piece of squash into the egg mixture and then into the cornmeal mixture so that all sides are coated. When all the squash is coated, put some olive oil into a large skillet. When the olive oil is hot, put some squash in the pan, in a single layer. Cook over medium high heat until golden brown on both sides (flipping half way through). You'll need to add more oil between each batch of squash. Drain the cooked squash on paper towels and serve hot with ranch dressing for dipping.

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