A few weeks ago I decided to bread some zucchini and fry it up as an appetizer. I served it with a simple lemon, dill dip and although it was tasty, I knew I could do better. I find zucchini, even fried zucchini, quite bland. I also love fried pickles but sometimes find them to be too ‘pickly/sour’. SO, I decided to combine the two flavours, add some cheese and lemon and voila! I came up with fried Pickled Parmesan Zucchini Bites!
These turned out GREAT. The longer you soak the zucchini in the pickle juice the more intense the pickle flavour becomes. I recommend a minimum of 4 – 6 hours but you could even let them sit over night. The zucchini is actually delicious eaten right out of the pickling liquid but once you bread them, fry them and serve them with dip, they are insanely tasty!! A MUST TRY!
NOTE: If you have a very large zucchini you may want to scoop out the centre ‘spongy’ part. In this case, you could cut the zucchini into ‘moon’ or half circle shapes instead…
RECIPE (serves 4)
1 medium zucchini (sliced into 1/4″ rounds – around 20 – 25 pieces)
pickle juice (enough to completely cover the zucchini)
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs (or regular bread crumbs, if you prefer)
2 small eggs – beaten and seasoned with salt
1/3 cup flour
vegetable oil – enough for frying (about 1 cup)
salt (for sprinkling on zucchini before and after they are fried)
Slice zucchini into about 1/4″ rounds and soak for 4 – 8 hours in pickle juice.
Remove zucchini from juice and pat dry with paper towel. Salt BOTH sides of the zucchini generously and sprinkle pepper on one side.
Arrange 3 large bowls. Add flour to one, panko and parmesan to another and egg, salt and lemon zest to the third. Whisk egg and lemon zest together.
Dip each zucchini round in flour and tap off any access.
Next, dip into egg mixture ensuring each piece is well coated in egg but not dripping.
Lastly, add zucchini round one to three at a time to the panko mix and press down on both sides to ensure zucchini is getting as much panko mixture on it as possible.
Repeat this process until all the zucchini is nicely breaded.
Heat oil in a large pan until quite hot. NOTE: Test heat by dipping a zucchini round in the oil using tongs. The oil should sizzle and bubble. If it doesn’t, the oil is not hot enough. It is CRUCIAL that the oil is hot enough of the zucchini will become soggy instead of nice and crispy.
Add zucchini to oil in batches ensuring you are not overcrowding the pan (overcrowding will bring the heat down too much causing the zucchini to become soggy).
Watch the heat and increase if the zucchini is not browning fast enough (or turn it down if zucchini is browning too fast).
Watch closely and check zucchini often to ensure it’s not getting too browned.
Once brown and crispy on one side, flip and brown other side.
Remove from heat and place on an even layer on paper towel (to soak up any access oil) and immediately sprinkle with salt. (NOTE: do not stack zucchini on top of each other or overlap right away because this will cause the zucchini to go limp).
I saw some beautiful baby asparagus on sale for $2 a bunch at the corner vegetable market yesterday and immediately decided that I would buy it and find a way to incorporate with the fish I had thawed out for dinner (Snapper).
It’s been unusually warm on the West Coast this spring and when it’s hot out I just want light foods like fresh fish/seafood or grilled meats paired with delicious salads and vegetables.
This is a light, tangy, healthy salad and it’s great on its own or as a side with your favourite meat or fish. I absolutely love the combination of slightly crunchy asparagus spears, juicy orange, crunchy almonds and salty parmesan cheese. I’ll be eating this salad a lot in the coming months!
About the recipe: I decided to throw some chickpeas, avocado and almonds into this salad for added fibre and healthy, filling fat since I didn’t want to cook a grain/starch… I used shallots because I LOVE shallots and ALWAYS have them on hand but if you don’t have them, red onion would also work. I garnished with shaved parmesan but feta or even goats cheese would also work beautifully in this salad.
NOTE: I made the dressing and cooked the asparagus in the pan with it to infuse the flavour because I wasn’t using the BBQ. If you are barbecuing, I would suggest grilling the asparagus on the BBQ and making the dressing separately because grilled asparagus is AWESOME.
INGREDIENTS (serves 2 large salads or 4 small ones)
1 bunch asparagus (about 2 cups)
3 cups packed baby spinach leaves
3/4 cup chickpeas (pre-cooked and rinsed) – or other bean/lentil
1/2 large avocado – diced
1/3 cup orange segments + 1/4 tsp zest
1 tsp dijon mustard (or grainy dijon)
1 tsp lemon juice + 1/4 tsp zest
2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
1.5 Tbsp shallot, diced
OPTION: 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Garnish: 1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese & a handful unsalted almonds
Trim off the fibrous/tough ends of the asparagus (note: to figure out where to cut the bottom off, simply bend a piece the asparagus. It will break at the point where you should discard the bottom part). Cut asparagus on a bias (angle) into bite sized pieces. NOTE: IF GRILLING THE ASPARAGUS, DON’T CUT IT UP UNTIL AFTER IT’S COOKED OR IT WILL FALL THROUGH THE GRATE.
Zest and then segment the orange (see how to segment and orange): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQr9QQLtBU0
Add shallot and olive oil to a pan and cook on medium-high heat for one minute.
Add asparagus and sauté until asparagus is tender with a slight crunch (al dente).
Turn heat to high and add red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to reduce for about a minute.Turn off heat and allow the asparagus and chickpeas to cool in pan with the dressing.
Meanwhile, using a large bowl, add your spinach, diced avocado, orange segments, orange and lemon zest, cherry tomatoes (if using) and salt and pepper to taste.
Add cooled asparagus, chickpeas and using a spatula, scrape down all the dressing from the pan and add to bowl.
Gently combine all ingredients and check seasoning. Add lemon juice and/or salt as desired.
Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with parmesan cheese and almonds (whole or slivered).
When I made a classic firm polenta a while back I really enjoyed it. My kids didn’t share my enthusiasm. They weren’t thrilled with the texture. However, when I made a creamier version last night to go with the Moroccan Chicken, they absolutely loved it. So did I. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m already craving it again today! Give it a try. It would pair beautifully with just about any meat dish – especially spicy or roasted meats.
RECIPE NOTES: If you don’t have shallots you could just substitute it with onion but you can get shallots at ANY grocery store and they are SO wonderful to use in recipes. Sort of a cross between garlic and onion. I use them in just about everything I make. I love them that much. Also, I used 2% milk in this recipe to give the polenta a creamier, richer texture. Feel free to substitute some, or all, of the milk with chicken broth or even water. If you like your polenta REALLY creamy (as opposed to a little firmer) just add another 1/4 cup of milk/broth to the recipe. Lastly, I finished with really good quality parmesan because I have it on hand but there’s no shame in using the pre-grated less expensive stuff either (:
INGREDIENTS (serves 2 large portions or 4 small ones)
1/3 cup grated parmesan (use the best quality stuff you can)
1/2 – 3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter (just use 1 Tbsp if you want to reduce the fat)
Using about a tablespoon of the butter (the rest is for finishing the polenta) sauté shallot and half the green onion with salt and pepper on medium-low heat until shallot is translucent. About 3 minutes. You don’t want it to brown.
Add milk and/or broth and slowly bring to a boil stirring often. You really have to be careful not to scald (burn) the milk.
Once milk comes to a boil turn heat down to low and slowly stir in the cornmeal.
Continue to stir for about 10 – 12 minutes. (If you find the polenta too thick for your liking, just add a little more milk, broth or water).
polenta in pot
Remove from heat and stir in remaining butter, green onion and lemon zest leaving just enough to garnish the dish with. Check for seasoning and adjust salt as desired.
Transfer to bowl (or plates). Garnish with a little cheese, green onion, lemon zest and black pepper and serve immediately.
I’m a little bored of rice, quinoa and pasta so I decided to make a polenta and am I ever glad I did! This is SO versatile, inexpensive and easy to make. As I was making it, I was already thinking up about a dozen new recipes for it (polenta with lemon, garlic and herbs, sundried tomato and olives, cheese and mushrooms…. to name a few). But for now, here is a basic parmesan polenta recipe that turned out beautifully! (I bought the cornmeal in the bulk isle at Super Store for next to nothing).
INGREDIENTS (served 4 – 6)
1 c cornmeal
2 c water
1 1/4 cup milk (you could just use 3 1/4 cups of water, but I like the milk for richness and added calcium)
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp butter (use more if you like, but I didn’t want mine too fattening)
1/2 c parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp pepper
Bring water, milk and salt to boil in saucepan, stirring constantly so milk doesn’t scald (burn). Slowly whisk in cornmeal to avoid lumps and once thick and smooth, switch to a spatula and continue stirring on low heat for around 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, cheese and pepper. Adjust seasoning, if desired. Spread into a greased non stick pan/baking dish and let rest. (Polenta should be about 3/4 inch thick in the pan). Either serve warm immediately or put in fridge and just reheat when ready to eat!