I'm not one of those who needs persuading. All my life, I've enjoyed zucchini cooked in nearly every way. But my husband cannot stand summer squash, zucchini included. Luckily, he loves this dish, which is my lighter adaptation of a classic Italian method of frying. To wit...
In America, when something is "breaded and fried," the last step almost always involves a breading of some kind – flour, cornmeal, bread crumbs, or panko (Japanese bread crumbs).
|Cleo Coyle, fan of zukes|
and cukes, is author of
In Italy, however, vegetables and fish are often "dorati e fritti," which translates to fried golden. With this method of frying, the food is dipped in flour, then in egg, and then fried. There is no final dredging in anything before the cooking. The egg coating hitting the oil is what gives the food its final golden color and the dish is almost always finished with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
I've adapted this classic method by exchanging a deep fry for a light pan saute. This is a delightful way to enjoy zucchini. It's relatively healthy, too, because the vegetable does not have its nutrition cooked away. As for the lightening aspect, I'm using only 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of flour, and 1 tablespoon of butter per serving. I much prefer the butter to the oil for flavor, but you can certainly try this with the same amount of olive or canola oil instead.
We enjoy it often in the summer; and If you make it, I hope you will also...
Eat with joy
Eat with joy
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Servings: This recipe is the perfect amount for two adult eaters.
To serve a family, you can easily double, triple, or quadruple it.
- 1 young zucchini (about cucumber size)
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 lemon
(1) Wash and cut zucchini: Wash the zucchini’s outside, pat dry, and cut into slices about ¼-inch thick. For a cucumber size zucchini, you’ll get about 20 slices. You want the slices uniform – not too thin, not too thick – so they will all cook evenly. No need to peel the skin. My husband and I actually enjoy the bit of crispness the deep green skin brings to this dish and young zukes have less of a harsh bite than older, larger ones. You'll retain much more nutrition if you leave the skin on, as well.
(2) Dredge in flour: Drop the slices in a zip lock bag with the ¼ cup of flour and shake it baby, shake it!
(3) Float slices in eggs: Break two eggs into a pie plate or cake pan. Add about ¼ teaspoon of water and whisk. Set the floured zuke slices into the egg mixture. Flip to coat both sides. Let slices soak while you melt the butter.
(4) Melt the butter: Over medium heat, warm up a skillet and throw in 2 tablespoons of butter. Do not let it brown or burn. Once the butter is just melted, swish around the pan to evenly coat the bottom. Now turn OFF the heat. This will give you time to lay out all of your zucchini without worrying about some of them overcooking and others undercooking.
(5) Fry the slices: One at a time, lay the egg-washed slices in the melted butter. Now turn the heat back ON and up to medium. Allow the zucchini to fry about 5 to 8 minutes on each side. Turn each slice over using the tips of two forks, one in each hand. (This is the best method because you can easily separate any clusters that may have fused together.) You may need to flip the slices one or two more times. The trick to this dish is cooking it long enough to get a nice brown color on the slices (see my photos). If you need to do a second or third batch, then continue adding a bit more butter to the pan, but BEWARE: Do not overdo the butter—too much butter will give you a soggy result!
(6) Finish with lemon: This dish is best served hot, right out of the pan. Place the finished zucchini on a plate covered with a paper towel (to soak up any bit of extra grease) and squeeze fresh lemon wedges over the hot slices. Do not skip the lemon! This is not an optional garnish, it’s essential for the Italian fried experience. Just as the bright tang of ketchup is added to French fries and malt vinegar is put on English fried fish to brighten those dishes and cut the heaviness of the fat, the lemon is the final layer of flavor that makes this dish a lively, lovely experience for your taste buds.
FINAL TIP: The trick to getting this dish right is not using too much butter. You may prefer to execute this dish with canola or olive oil, but the taste will not be as nice, and please remember (if you decide to substitute oil for butter) to use it very sparingly. If you use too much butter or oil, your zucchini will come out soggy and too soft. Keep the fat content low and make sure you cook the zucchini enough to get the slices nicely browned but still a bit al dente (firm). When cooked properly, this is one of the most delicious ways to prepare an inexpensive and healthy vegetable. May you...
Eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle, author of
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