While the days of locally sourced, farm-fresh summer squash pasta are behind those of us in the Northeast, I’m fairly certain zucchini of one origin or another are a year-round staple in supermarkets coast to coast. You may not have the pleasure of meeting the kind fella who nursed that squash from a tiny seedling, but I’m sure there’s a driver of a produce-toting 18-wheeler somewhere who would be more than happy to shake your hand.
After grabbing two small, likely well-traveled zucchini from Gristedes I set out to make these baked zucchini chips, which I’ve been meaning to get around to all summer. Don't be misled by the 'chip' descriptor. There are definitely some crispy, browned parts, but what you’ll be most pleasantly surprised by is a flavor profile eerily similar to deep-fried mozzarella sticks. Must be the combination of Italian herbs, marinara, cheese and of course – gluten free bread crumbs.
Now, I’m sure there are some fresh breadcrumb purists out there. But I can tell you this. If I’m going to fuss around the kitchen all day waiting for things to bloom and rise and bake, you can bet I’m not about to turn around and pulverize that oven-fresh loaf of bread into sawdust. (Blooming is the yeast, by the way. Though it wouldn't kill me to grab flowers instead of food at the farmer's market one day.)
Enter Schar’s Gluten Free Bread Crumbs. I’ve never been disappointed by a Schar product, and this time was no different. Texturally I couldn’t discern the difference between these and regular bread crumbs, and Schar’s are unseasoned so you have the freedom to doctor them up however you’d like. These are great to have on hand, and I’m already envisioning the other half of my bag of bread crumbs going into a batch of meatballs. Bon appétit!
Other dip-friendly things:
¼ cup milk (any fat content)
½ cup gluten free bread crumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (preferably grated with a microplane), plus extra
2 tsp dried Italian herb mix (combo of thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, basil)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 small zucchini
Marinara sauce, for dipping
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with foil. Coat each with baking spray.
Set out two shallow bowls. Pour the milk into the first. In the second, add the bread crumbs, Parmesan, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Mix with your hands or a fork.
Cut off both ends of each zucchini, then slice them into discs about 1/4 inch thick. Drop a few slices of zucchini into the bowl of milk, and toss so they’re coated. Then, transfer one zucchini slice to the bowl with the bread crumb mixture. Push it down into the mix, and pat more coating on top. Move the covered zucchini chip to the foiled baking sheet. (You can work in larger batches, tossing multiple zucchini in the bread crumb coating at once, but I found it more effective to work one at a time.) Repeat until all of the zucchini are coated with milk then covered in the seasoned bread crumbs.
Once all of the zucchini are on the baking sheets (not overlapping) generously spray the tops with cooking spray. Place the trays in the oven and bake for about 7-10 minutes, until tops are golden brown.
Remove trays from oven and flip all of the zucchini. (I tried tongs, but using a fork and my hand ended up being faster.) Spray the newly exposed sides with cooking spray. Return to oven and bake for another 7-10 minutes.
After the zucchini chips are done cooking, immediately sprinkle them with additional cheese. Serve warm with warmed marinara sauce.