Crispy baked zucchini perfection with a garlicky dairy-free yogurt dip that doubles as the “glue” to hold the breading! Gluten free options.
Zucchini has other great nutrients like fiber, potassium and protein. To receive the full benefits of these nutrients, you should probably eat the vegetable raw, but truthfully, I have been working on this baked zucchini fry recipe for months and I just finally got it perfect. I had to share it asap, so it’s getting posted on nutrient day. No big deal.
First, I have to say that the breading on these “fries” is the best I’ve ever achieved with a baked method. Baking something breaded can be extremely difficult, because without some fat, the breading can come out excessively dry and over done in places. After a ton of trial and error, I have come up with a method that works great.
The round shape of the zucchini is actually intentional. Making round cuts instead of fry shape cuts ensures that you will not have floppy zucchini and it keeps the integrity of the breading structure intact. I noticed that when I tried making traditionally shaped zucchini fries, unless I had a very very thick breading layer, the fries would always get soft and then crack the coating when I attempted to turn them. Making the fries round solves this.
I felt dead set on using dairy free yogurt as my wet layer from the very beginning. I use unsweetened plain coconut yogurt, which has a thinner, but still yogurty consistency. I tried non-dairy milk combinations with mustard and other things, but the yogurt by itself seems to work best. It’s the perfect thickness to evenly coat the zucchini without being too drippy. I like to add all the seasonings into the yogurt, instead of in the dry breading, because that way the spices and herbs won’t burn. PLUS, you can season a whole 16 oz. container of yogurt with garlic & onion powder, salt, pepper & parsley… Then use half for the coating and save the rest for your dip! It’s tasty, and you don’t have to stress about whipping up a separate dipping sauce. …Patting myself on the back for this one…
This is where you have options. There are two dry layers – first a toss in some flour (could be a gluten free blend) to coat the zucchini before the yogurt goes on. This is to help the yogurt stick even better. Then after the yogurt, each piece is tossed in a light coating of fine bread crumbs. Or actually, it can be any kind of crumbs, and this is where the gluten free option comes in. You see, I started making my own breadcrumbs for this recipe with some leftover ciabatta I had sitting around. I thought it would be enough, but it ended up only being half of what I needed. So then I started looking around the kitchen for other things I could use. I put a couple of handfuls of tortilla chips and a handful of pretzels in the food processor and processed it down to very small crumbs. I made a second batch using this combination and couldn’t tell the difference. You could use anything as long as it’s dry enough to begin with and as long as you process it down to fine crumbs – in the food processor this will end up being small crumbs plus a good amount of powder. Perfect for an even layer of coating! Try using chips, crackers, pretzels, dried bread… If you want to go with panko, you will still have to break it down even smaller in the food processor because panko out of the box is too chunky for this recipe.
Finally, this recipe uses five zucchinis and it makes two baking sheets worth of fries. Yes, that’s a lot, but hear me out. You can freeze these. Trust me, you want to do this. Bake one sheet all the way through to eat right away, and bake the other about 15 minutes less. Once cooled, pop the leftovers in a freezer-safe container and save for later! I’m reheating the last of my leftover zucchini as I type this. I’m such a fan of these fries I think I’ll keep some stocked in my freezer at all times in case I’m in need of an impromptu crunchy snack.