Southwest Baked Zucchini Fries

Luvvies! Have you heard the good news? Melinda has finally welcomed Baby Oliver into the world. While she spends quality time with her adorable baby boy, I’ve agreed to write a guest post. My name is Becca Bona, a food writer and photographer. You might have seen some of my work over at Rock City Eats, or a blog I run with my bestie – One Fell Swoop. Usually, my posts are all about drinks – and I was going to share my favorite margarita recipe with you luvvies today – but the colder weather we’ve been experiencing lately set me in a completely different direction. When it gets windy and frigid outside, I tend to overdo the comfort food. The short daylight span and chilly air makes me want to eat ALL the time. Especially French Fries … I could probably eat my weight in those golden fried beauties. Luckily I’ve found a pretty healthy alternative in baked zucchini fries. They don’t really take all that long to make, plus, they’re boyfriend approved, which makes them five-stars in my book. You’ve probably seen numerous recipes floating around Pinterest, as baked zucchini fries have been a thing for a while now. Most of them treat the process much like you would when making Chicken Parmesan, and I did, too, when I started out, especially when it came to the seasoning aspect. As time went on, I realized I wanted something a little more zesty to spice up a wintry afternoon, and so I’ve ended up with a homemade bread crumb mix that has a Southwestern flair, as opposed to the typical Italian Panko ones. I also wanted more of a whole wheat angle, as I’m a runner and I have a hard time getting all of my grains in. I have a love affair with cheese, so, I wanted to dry different combinations until I found one I loved. Instead of going with Parmesan, I made a trip out to Kent Walker Artisan Cheese in Little Rock to get something a little more fun. I ended up with an imported Italian Provolone, which is slightly salty, but really pairs with the seasoning and whole wheat bread crumbs. Southwest Baked Zucchini Fries   Ingredients 2-3 Small Zucchini 1 Slice of Whole Wheat Bread 1 Egg White ¼ cup of Italian Provolone Cheese (or something similar) 1 tsp. Cumin 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper ¼ tsp. Chili Powder ¼ tsp. Garlic Powder ¼ tsp. Ground Black Pepper Southwest Baked Zucchini Fries First, create your bread crumbs. Dry out your bread at 400 F for 10 minutes or until it turns crispy. Be careful not to burn. Break the bread into small pieces in a food processor, and pulse until you have a relatively fine crumb mixture. While the bread gets toasty, cut the zucchini into fry shaped sticks. The thickness or thinness depends on personal taste – but keep in mind if they’re too thin they’ll be overly crisp, and if they’re too thick they won’t bake all the way through. When the bread is finished, turn the oven to 425 F and prepare a pan with no-stick spray or cover with parchment paper. Next, combine the crumbs (about ¾ of a cup worth) with the spices and shredded cheese in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly to ensure the spices and cheese have spread throughout. Place your egg white in a shallow bowl, separate from the bread crumb mixture. Dredge each zucchini stick into the egg white, coating all sides, and then drag through the crumb mixture, making sure that the zucchini is covered. After each slice is covered in both the bread and egg mixture, place on the prepared pan. Southwest Baked Zucchini Fries Cook at 425 for 17-20 minutes, until golden and crispy. Pair with any dip of your choice – ranch, ketchup, marinara – and be sure to enjoy right out of the oven, as the ‘fries’ are best served hot. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s customizable. For gluten-free fries, break up gluten-free crackers or bread in the food processor, and go from there. I haven’t tried it myself, but if you have an aversion to eggs, you could substitute milk (all types) for that step, and you can always leave the cheese out. Southwest Baked Zucchini Fries The next time it’s cold and you’re stuck inside with a craving for fries, take comfort. This recipe is luvvly for every day of the week. Happy eating!

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