First it was the polenta chips, then the mini Italian doughnuts. There seems to have been a lot of frying happening in our house these school holidays. Here is a much healthier alternative to the much loved potato chip or french fry. Oven Baked Panko and Parmesan Crumbed Zucchini Fries. Japanese panko crumbs are lighter and flakier than traditional breadcrumbs and produce a crisper and crunchier zucchini fry. I’ve opted for an oven baked version today as it’s quicker and involves less kitchen clean up than frying. Of course, if you prefer, it is perfectly acceptable to fry these little beauties. The panko crumb will absorb less oil than a traditional bread crumb. Which is also healthier for you.
So popular were these in our house that I set up a production crumbing line. With the overriding condition that the oven would not be turned on until the kitchen was spotless. A win-win situation whichever way you approach it.
Oven Baked Panko and Parmesan Crumbed Zucchini Fries
1/2 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cups Japanese panko crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 tablespoons olive oil for baking, or cooking spray
sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
lemon wedges to serve
TRIM the ends of the zucchini and slice into even sized batons, no longer than 10cm. About a dozen batons per medium sized zucchini.
BLANCH the zucchini batons in a pot of boiling water, drain and pat dry. Blanching helps the crumb better adhere to the zucchini. Allow to cool before crumbing.
LINE an oven tray with baking paper and very lightly coat with a tablespoon of olive oil. I use a pastry brush to evenly distribute the oil. Non-stick cooking spray can be used as an alternative. Set aside.
BEFORE you start crumbing, arrange the ingredients you’ll need for the coating in the order you’ll be using them. Place the flour on a large plate and season with salt and pepper. Crack the eggs into a bowl with a splash of water and a generous pinch of salt and lightly whisk with a fork. Combine the panko breadcrumbs and parmesan on a separate plate.
WORKING with a small batch at a time, dip the zucchini batons in flour, shake to remove excess and then dip into the egg mixture, making sure to remove any excess before rolling in panko and parmesan crumb mixture.
PLACE the crumbed zucchini in an even, well spaced layer on the prepared baking tray, to ensure even browning.
WHEN all the zucchini batons have been crumbed, cover the baking tray with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest before baking.
FIFTEEN minutes prior to baking preheat the oven to 200 C. Remove the baking tray from the fridge and drizzle (or spray) a tablespoon of olive oil over the crumbed zucchini.
BAKE for an initial 10 minutes in a hot oven. Turn the zucchini fries over and bake for a further 15 minutes or until they are crisp and golden. Season generously with sea salt and serve immediately with a good squeeze of lemon.