Crispy Baked Cheesy Zucchini Fries

My veggie consumption of late has been abysmal, to put it mildly. Most of the time my meal planning only centers around our main course, and side dishes fall by the wayside. (And veggies are always side dishes here, and never included in the main course, since Shane doesn’t like them.) I’ll usually grab some sort of produce without a specific plan and figure it out as I go during the course of the week. Sometimes that works well – like when asparagus is in season as I’m perfectly content to eat it every night simply roasted or grilled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Salads are good options too, I really only need greens, tomatoes and cucumbers with a simple vinaigrette to make me happy.

Other veggies, though, require more advance planning because I just don’t love them enough to eat them the same way all the time. Luckily, with a wider variety of summer produce options beginning to make its way to our local farmer’s markets and grocery stores, I have some new inspiration to get better about the planning. Besides, how am I going to justify all the burgers I want to grill if I don’t have veggies on hand to balance them out?

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries

Zucchini is still pretty low on my list of most desirable veggies, but it’s abundant and cheap, so every year I try to convince myself it’s good, and useful for more than just baking :) And given the right preparation, I’m starting to believe that can be true. These zucchini fries are a recent favorite. They’re coated with a flour, egg, and Panko/Parmesan breading then baked until they’re golden brown and crispy on the outside with a tender center. I threw together a quick sriracha mayo for dipping – it’s just a little spicy and makes these fries even more fun to eat but feel free to substitute your favorite dipping sauce or skip it entirely. I may not love zucchini fries as much as I love regular french fries, but I definitely feel about 1000x better after I eat them!

Crispy Baked Cheesy Zucchini Fries

Crispy Baked Cheesy Zucchini Fries with Sriracha Lime Mayo
fries adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride, mayo adapted from White on Rice Couple

Fries
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 lb zucchini (about 1 medium)

Mayo
3 tablespoons mayo
1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon lime juice

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place a wire rack in the baking sheet.

Add the flour to a resealable plastic bag. Combine the egg and water together in a shallow dish, and beat lightly with a fork. In a second shallow dish, mix together the Panko, Parmesan, salt, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.

To cut the zucchini into fries: Slice the top and bottom off the zucchini. Cut into about 3-inch fries – I found this easiest to do by cutting the zucchini half and then continuing to cut the pieces in half again and again.

Add the zucchini to the resealable bag containing the flour. Shake to coat them evenly. Working with one fry at a time, shake the excess flour off, then dip in the egg mixture and dredge in the Panko mixture, pressing to coat completely. Place the fries on the wire rack. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the coating is golden brown and crisp.

While the fries bake, make the sriracha lime mayo by adding all of the ingredients to a small bowl and stirring to combine. Serve the fries with the mayo. These are best served immediately (or shortly after baking).