While my brother, Daniel requested some Chicken Parmigiana to go with the fresh focaccia (soon to come), I would have preferred a light vegetarian meal. I scavenged the fridge for some eggplant to make eggplant parmigiana for myself and chicken parm for my bro, but to no avail, no eggplant in the fridge. But, there was some zucchini. I quickly thought, ehh this could make a hearty enough vegetarian meal, so lets experiment. So here it is, I call them zucchini fritters, only because zucchini parmigiana doesn't seem possible, but, essentially the same cooking techniques are at use as for chicken or eggplant parmgiana.
First, I dipped the chunks of zucchini in egg batter, and then in seasoned breadcrumbs, then pan fried them. Not all of my experiments are successful, but this one was. I had to restrain Daniel from eating my dinner and stalling him until his chicken was ready. So, even a meat-eater liked them, I think that says something. In any case, they can serve as a great appetizer, side dish, or accompaniment to eggplant or chicken parm. Do the same to some carrots or shrimp, and serve them up with eggplant and zucchini, and you have Italian tempura. Except, your dipping sauce is tomato sauce instead of sweet soy sauce. Fusion, my friends.
Ingredients (for 2 servings):
- 2 zucchini
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- About 1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
- About 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- About 1 cup tomato sauce for dipping (optional)
- Shredded mozzarella cheese for topping (optional)
- Fresh basil for garnish (optional)
1. Wash and dry your zucchini. Cut them down lengthwise in half and then in thirds so they are small chunks. Dry them as best as you can again.
2. Use a shallow pan to put your bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese in. Combine them so they are even throughout the mixture.
3. Beat 1 egg in a small bowl.
4. Dip about 3 zucchini chunks in the egg batter. Then, take them out one by one with a fork, allowing the excess egg to drain. Then, place each piece in the bread crumb mixture and coat all sides of the zucchini with the crumbs, making sure to press down so that the crumbs stick to the vegetable. Prepare about 5-6 zucchini in this way and set aside.
5. Get a medium to large frying pan and place 2 tablespoons on oil in the pan, or just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is fairly hot (about 30 seconds to a minute) put the zucchini chunks in the pan. Make sure to allow the excess crumbs to fall from the zucchini before you place in them in the pan.
And also, BE CAREFUL, the if the oil is very hot and splashes, it can burn you. Place the chunks in the pan, slowly and swiftly like you're putting a baby to sleep. Be gentle or it will bite back at you with a hearty burn or splash your hot shirt. Thinking about it, this is a good time to dig out that old apron and rock it even look like a 1950s housewife or an over-enthused bbqing dad.
6. Turn them once of twice until all sides are golden brown. And you probably will have to lower the heat after one side is browned. When they are cooked, place them on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up excess oil, keeping the fritters crisp.
At this time, if you would like cheese, place some cheese on top. Then, lower the heat substantially, when the first batch is out, add a little more oil if needed, and repeat with the fresh zucchini chunks. The second batch will cook faster so watch them diligently and play with the fire- I mean don't hesitate to lower it, it the sizzling or the browning is getting out of hand.
7. When, the fritters are done, wait for them to cool, they WILL burn your tongue is you eat them right away because the juice is piping hot. So, while you wait and salivate for your first bite, heat up the tomato sauce in small pot on the stove or in the microwave. If you don't want to make another dirty dish, just heat the sauce in the frying pan you used, because you might get some of those good flavors with it too (don't use the pan if you let the oil burn though). Then, you can put the fritters in the sauce and serve, or just use it as a dipping side. A garnish of basil will make the plate look presentable too.