September 25, 2012 |

Zucchini Sticks

By Pasquale Bruno, Jr.

Never look down on the idea of stick food as an appetizer option. Children and adults alike love stick food –– it’s fun, easy to eat, something a bit different. Stick food is here to stay.
I have written about fried mozzarella sticks for Pizza Today on several occasions and, no question about it, mozzarella sticks are a tasty, fun food; however, if the customer is ordering pizza (with all that cheese), maybe it’s a good idea to look beyond the cheese idea for a moment and think vegetables. And the vegetable that comes to mind for a delicious appetizer/stick food is zucchini.

Zucchini is available year-round, so getting it is not a problem. Food costs for zucchini are lower than that of mozzarella sticks, and the prep for zucchini sticks is a snap.

When purchasing zucchini, look for those with a bright colored skin and few blemishes or bruises. Generally speaking, smaller zucchini are much more tender than larger zucchini. Fresh zucchini will hold in the cooler for about one week.

You will note that I am not saying “fried zucchini sticks.” Yes, there is a recipe below that calls for frying, but there is also one where the zucchini sticks are baked (think healthy).

One of the important extras for zucchini sticks is the dipping sauce, so I am suggesting a spicy lemon aioli dipping sauce for the fried zucchini, and a warm marinara (or a warm pizza sauce) for the baked version.

Parmesan Zucchini Sticks
Yield: 4 appetizer servings (scale up in direct proportion)

1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 medium zucchini (about 1 ½ pounds), cut into strips about ½ inch wide and 3 inches long
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Finely chopped parsley

In a large plastic bag, combine well the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, flour and salt.
Dip the zucchini sticks in the eggs then (in batches) shake them in the bag with breadcrumb/flour mixture.
Fry the zucchini in 360 F oil until golden (about 3 minutes). Drain on rack and paper toweling. Sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve.

Spicy lemon/aioli dipping sauce
2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup lemon juice

Combine and whisk all ingredients well. Store to chill in glass jar. Serve chilled with zucchini sticks.

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Sticks
Yield: 6 servings (scale up in direct proportion)

1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
5 medium zucchini (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into strips about ½ inch wide and 3 inches long
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

In a mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan cheese.
Dip zucchini strips in beaten egg then in breadcrumb mixture to coat.
Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray. Arrange the zucchini strips in one layer on sheet pans.

Bake in a 425 F oven for 20-25 minutes (shake the pans after about 15 minutes), or until golden brown.

Serve with warm marinara dipping sauce.


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