Oven "Fried" Zucchini and Goat Cheese Salad

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One of my favorite foods of all time is fried zucchini.  When I was little, I remember my mom dredging slices of zucchini in seasoned flour and frying them in a skillet as a special treat in the summer.  I used to be an unreasonably picky eater and would not touch a zucchini with a ten foot pole.  Luckily, as I got older, my tastes changed and I realized that I was missing out!

Even as an adult, I sometimes like to order fried zucchini with a side salad at restaurants and pretend I'm eating healthy.  The perfect fried zucchini results from either a thick slice or even a wedge of zucchini (definitely a higher zucchini to breading ratio), and a super crispy coating or batter.  Call me crazy, but I dip it in ketchup :)

My love for fried zucchini runs so deep that I had to come up with a healthier version to make at home.  So a couple of years ago, I did.  Most recently, I made this Oven "Fried" Zucchini the star of an amazing salad -- with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and walnuts.

This salad goes perfectly with my Grandma Miller's sweet and sour dressing


Oven "Fried" Zucchini

Ingredients:
1 medium zucchini
1 egg
1/2 cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
sprinkle of cayenne pepper
olive oil cooking spray

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray.

Slice zucchini into 1/4 - 1/2 inch slices and prepare your dredging station.  In one bowl or pie plate, lightly beat one egg and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper with a fork.  In another bowl or pie plate, combine Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, basil, oregano, garlic powder, and salt.

Working in batches, add a few zucchini slices into the egg mixture.  Flip to coat, then drop into the other bowl to coat with the breadcrumb/parm mixture.

TIP:  To avoid the dreaded club hand while coating the zucchini, try your best to keep one hand for "wet" and one hand for "dry."  I use my left hand to put the zucchini slices into the egg mixture, to flip them over, and to transfer them into the dry mix.  Then I use my right hand to pat the dry mixture onto the zucchini slice and transfer it to the baking sheet.

Repeat until all zucchini slices are coated.  Spray the tops of the zucchini slices lightly with cooking spray or olive oil.  

TIP:  You can either use cooking spray or olive oil in a sprayer like my Misto shown above.  I have tried both ways and they both turn out great!

Bake for 10 minutes, then flip each slice gently with a fork.  Bake for another 5 minutes or until the zucchini is tender and browned.

TIP:  You can put the zucchini under the broiler for the last few minutes to get it nice and toasty if you wish!
 

To make the salad...

Top a bed of baby spinach and baby kale (or mixed greens of your choice) with red onions, roasted red pepper strips, walnuts, and crumbled goat cheese.  Add oven "fried" zucchini and top with your favorite salad dressing (some kind of vinaigrette is best)!