Wednesday, June 12, 2019

It's Veggie Skinny Dipping Time!

It’s mid-June and that means easy does it in the kitchen. Why? Summer is almost here! That means it’s time to chill, get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. Forget slaving over a stovetop or baking when it’s hot. But quickie side dishes like hot, crispy fries or zucchini sticks is perfect for a cool snack.
A long time ago, during one winter at a dentist office in town I was waiting nervously to have a procedure done. I had forgotten to eat. My stomach was growling and I was queasy. “Do you have any crackers or tea?” I asked the dental assistant. She brought me a slice of homemade zucchini bread. It was a sweet gesture; if it were winter I’d whip us up a batch for old time’s sake. But uh, it’s almost summertime! Too hot, sorry.
This zucchini bread memory hit me this week because I recently had my teeth cleaned; my beloved Australian Shepherd had his teeth tended to, too.

And, at the supermarket the summer vegetable was calling out to me, “Hey! Remember me?” Plant-based food, from vegetables to herbs and spices, like garlic powder to parsley, is what led me to zucchini, the long green vegetable that is found in comforting soups and stews. But, in summer it’s time for more fruits and vegetables, right? Because it’s the season for fun, why not spice it up, right?

Baked Zucchini Cheese Sticks
1 large zucchini or 2 smaller ones
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup European style butter melted
Ground pepper to taste
½ cup ketchup
1 Roma tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, dried or fresh

Wash zucchini. On a bread board cut stems. Slice zucchini in half. Repeat. Cut into French fry type wedges. Leave the skins on. Place on plate. Set aside. In a bowl, combine egg and cheese, mix. Set aside. In a flat dish mix breadcrumbs and seasoning. Now it’s time to dip zucchini wedges into egg mixture, then roll into breadcrumb mixture. Place wedges onto a baking pan. Drip butter onto the zucchini. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until light golden brown and crispy on the outside. Serve hot. Ketchup with tomato chunks and parsley is a tasty dip. Salsa can suffice too. Serves 3 to 4.

This recipe is easy to make and fun to eat. After all, it’s finger food. The cool thing is, you can fry it up but baking it is healthier and you still get that crunch. Nope, it’s not zucchini lasagna (that’s more of a fall, winter dish) but it’s tasty, hot, and spicy. The bottom line: Make a batch for family or friends and you’re sure to get a thumbs up because it’s super-crazy fun food!

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