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Crispy on the outside, creamy tender on the inside, these low-fat oven baked zucchini crisps are a perfect side dish or eat as a healthy snack. Quick and easy.
Heat the oven to 425°F. Lightly oil a heavy cookie sheet or oven proof griddle and place on a rack in the middle third of the oven to heat.While the oven and pan heat, prepare the zucchini coins by cutting them and placing them on paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt and allow to sit for about 5 minutes or until you see drops of moisture forming on the top; blot the moisture up with additional paper towels.
Place the breadcrumbs in a wide bowl and mix in the cheese. In another bowl place the lightly beaten egg whites. Using one hand, dip each coin into the egg white, coating both sides then drop into the breadcrumb mixture. Using the other hand (the dry hand) turn the coins to cover both sides with the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a wire rack as you complete all of the coins.
Once all the coins are done and the cookie sheet is hot, remove it from the oven and place the coins uniformly on the sheet, return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes; turn the coins and bake for 5 - 10 minutes more, depending on how soft you want the inside - the outside will remain crispy. Serve as a snack or side dish. Yummy plain or dipped in Ranch or Green Goddess dressing.
There are a lot of recipes out there for baked zucchini crisps, coins, chips, whatever. And most of them are pretty much the same recipe, just with a different name. I don’t mean loosely the same, I mean the same the same. And they are all fine recipes. But I like mine better.
My recipe was adapted from a recipe I came across a while ago, probably more than 15 years. Probably from an Eating Well, or Cooking Light, or some other healthy let’s lose weight magazine that was all my rage after having indulged in Gourmet, Bon App, and Sauveur magazines to the tune of 30+ pounds.
So how am I different? And how did I make my crisps?
Let’s start with the zucchini. Aside from the fact that my particular zucchini came from my garden, any and all zucchini has a lot of moisture in it. Moisture is not a good friend to crispy. To soggy sure, to crispy no. So I start my process by slicing my squash into 1/4 inch slices, then put them on paper towels and sprinkle them with a light sprinkle of salt. The salt will draw the moisture out of the slices so you can pat them dry removing much of the moisture. You don’t need or want to, over salt, just a fine sprinkle. Wait about 5 minutes – once you see some moisture rise, you are good to pat them with some paper towels.
Having uniform slices is important so I used my very sharp (and according to BB very dangerous) mandolin. You could also use your awesome knife skills especially if you are not comfortable using a mandolin. No matter which you choose, keep those fingers out of the way …
I use Italian Style Breadcrumbs for my coating. It already has a lot of flavor going on so I don’t need to add much, just a bit more Parmesan cheese for added crisp and flavor. The ratio of cheese to breadcrumbs is 2 to 1 – important to know if you run out of crumbs before you run out of coins.
Another difference is using lightly beaten eggs whites as my “glue”. While using milk as your glue will work to get the breadcrumbs to adhere, it adds nothing to crispness. As a matter of fact, milk will work just the opposite, adding moisture to the mix. The egg whites texture and viscosity help with crisping.
Have you ever made a dish that required breading and ended up with hands that looked like you were planning on cooking them as well? Big clumps of breading stuck to your fingertips? This is best avoided by using the technique called “wet hand – dry hand”. Wet hand dry hand is exactly as it sounds. You use one hand exclusively for wet ingredients and one hand exclusively for dry ingredients.
For this recipe, I like to put a few zucchini coins into the egg whites and using my left hand (perhaps since I am left-handed, so you use whichever hand you designate “wet”) turning them a few times to make sure they are fully coated in the glue, then drain slightly by holding each coin over the bowl then toss them into the breadcrumb mixture. Now using my right hand, and just my right hand, turn the coins over a few time to fully coat, then transfer them to the waiting rack. Repeat until all the zucchini coins have been coated.
Heat up your cooking sheet.
That’s right, start with a hot surface. Starting with a hot surface not only speeds up the total cooking time but gets those crisps to start crisping right away. Use either a heavy duty cookie sheet or do as I do and use your griddle – the one you use to make pancakes on. I like to use my griddle because it’s thicker so it’s a good heat conductor, it’s non-stick, so only a very light coating of olive oil is needed, and it gives me something else to use it for as I hate having single use items cluttering up my kitchen.
Remember not to use cooking spray on your metal baking pans, the aerosol propellant will leave a sticky residue over time that you cannot get rid of so always use oil and lightly brush the surface, or make your own spray bottle of oil in a pump bottle. This light brushing of oil was all the oil I used.
There’s that keeping it low-fat!
Once the oven is hot, the pan is hot. Remove it from the oven and carefully place your zucchini coins in an orderly fashion, then back into the oven to bake for about 10 minutes; turn and bake 5 – 10 minutes more – depending on how soft you like the zucchini part of the program. When served as a dinner side, I like them a little more soft in the middle, when served as a snack, a bit less soft. But it’s all up to you.
So whether you serve these quick, easy, low-fat baked zucchini crisps as a snack or as a part of a healthy low-fat meal, enjoy them while the season is hot and the farmer’s market is full of fresh healthy zucchini.
Also pictured is my woven basket I bought from a street vendor in Kauai where we had just returned from vacation. Can’t wait to see how it ages.
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