Tuesday, September 3, 2013

zucchini parmesan crisps

ugly and therefore tasty zucchini chips

Sometimes, I think the internet is trying to tell me something. Well, most days, many things, such as why nobody should ever, ever click on a certain VMA performance (which is like begging me to click, only for me to run away with my hands over my eyes. Why would you do that to me, internet?!), why this lady should be all of our new heroes, the effect of mirrors in grocery carts and also maybe where tiramisu comes from? So much stuff, people. But sometimes, the message is a little more pointed, such as the time a few weeks ago I was checking out a tres leches cake recipe for research on a likeminded popsicle and the sidebar suggested that maybe I might consider making zucchini crisps instead?

let's get ready to make zucchini crisps!
slice them to a scant 1/4-inch thick

I was suspicious — ever-mushy and damp zucchini? as chips? without frying but only using a tiny bit of oil? — and so I clicked over. They looked beautiful. People seemed to universally rave about them. It was almost dinnertime and, as usual, fully prepared food had yet materialize on our table, the forces of the universe disappointing me yet again. And of course, because it was August, I had no fewer than four zucchinis withering away in my fridge, waiting to be called upon for a higher purpose.

eh, skip the oil step

a coating of parmesan and crumbs

I hope it goes without saying that we all need some crunchy, slightly salty chips from time to time. Me, I’m partial to the kettle-cooked, skin-on potato variety that fold in on themselves, especially in the oh-so-natural sour cream and onion flavor (mmm, suspicious green flecks…) but rather dubious of all the others. These didn’t work for me on the first round (the oil seemed to keep the crust from sticking, and even when it did, they got soft quickly after they cooled; also, they were hideous.) but they were so delicious, I couldn’t stop eating them. The second time I made them, I used an egg white or two to hold the parmesan-crumb mixture in place, the results were still goofy looking but holy moly, guys: chip city.

crisps, ready for the oven
zucchini parmesan crisps
zucchini parmesan crips

Crunch, crunch. Crunch, crunch. [It sounds like this. I think you know what needs to be done.]

Rosh Hashanah: The Jewish new year arrives so early this year, it’s downright perplexing how I’m eating strawberry summer cake in the same week that we’re supposed to indulge in apples and honey. Nevertheless, if you’re at a loss for recipes to get you started, may I suggest: this kale salad, this carrot salad, this one-pan farro with tomatoes, this tangy brisket, an apple-and-honey challah, a fig-olive-and-sea salt challah, or a classic one, my mom’s apple cake, this astoundingly moist honey cake, chocolate babka or even some miniature potato knish? From the cookbook, if you’ve got it, please don’t miss the sweet-and-sour high holiday brisket or the chicken with olives and grapes, which I intended for these very weeks of the year.

Three years ago: Peach Shortbread
Four years ago: Tomato and Corn Pie
Five years ago: Crisp Rosemary Flatbread
Six years ago: Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitake

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
Adapted from Ellie Krieger

This doesn’t too closely follow the original recipe because I found I needed thinner chips, more crumbs, more parmesan and sometimes less baking time than recommended. I also found that I could only reliably get “crisp” effect, one that lasted for a while, when I used an egg white instead of an olive oil wash. Please don’t take any of the measurements in this recipe as the law; cooking times and required coating will vary by thickness and baking pan heaviness. You’ll want to keep an eye on them and look for a good golden color before removing from the oven, which will ensure that they get and remain crisp. They’re also best on the first day, so you’re going to have to eat them all. I promise, you won’t mind.

Olive oil or cooking spray
2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound total)
1 to 2 egg whites
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup plain, dry breadcrumbs, such as panko
A couple pinches sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Coat two baking sheets lightly with cooking spray or thinly with olive oil. Slice zucchini into slightly-less-than 1/4-inch thick rounds; if they feel especially wet, spread them on a towel while you prepare the other ingredients. In a small bowl, lightly beat first egg white with 1 teaspoon water to loosen it. Combine cheese, crumbs, salt and pepper in a separate bowl. Dip each zucchini coin in egg white, letting excess run off before gently dipping them in parmesan mixture. Arrange in single layer on baking sheets. If additional egg white is needed, prepare it the same way, with 1 teaspoon of water. If additional crumb mixture is needed, make a few spoonfuls at a time, matching the volume of crumbs and cheese.

Bake zucchini rounds until browned and crisp, about 25 to 30 minutes, flipping each over halfway through. Please keep an eye on them; they may need to be moved around on the tray so the ones at the edges don’t bake more quickly than the ones in the center. Take them out only when they’re golden all over and let them cool on the tray on a cooling rack or a plate.

Keep at room temperature until needed. Crisps are best on the first day.


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