Our friends Kara and Lance have a great backyard garden, so sometimes we are the lucky recipients of their extra produce. We are growing tomatoes and herbs at home, but they have goodies like butternut squash and cucumbers. This year they also had a mammoth zucchini plant, and when I was at their house recently Kara gave me what she thought would be just the first of its many fruits.
Sadly, the plant started rotting and had to be pulled out, leaving me with its one and only zucchini. All of a sudden I felt the weight of responsibility every time I opened the fridge and encountered that one giant zucchini dominating the middle shelf, and I determined to make that zucchini something that our whole family would eat and enjoy.
My solution? No, not zucchini bread or cake (James is a champion "green speck" detector). My strategy was zucchini sticks. I just cut the zucchini into wedges, dredged in eggs and breadcrumbs, and baked the slices until they were crispy. To increase my chances of getting my veggie-phobic son to eat it, I peeled it first (but that's not necessary), and I also made some mozzarella bites with the same general technique to entice him into thinking that anything coated with breadcrumbs was yummy.
Look at this miracle:
He is voluntarily eating something I told him was a zucchini. This from the boy who last week was forced to eat butternut squash, sauteed spinach, and mushrooms in one supper (poor guy!). He took his first ever bite of mushroom, grimaced, swallowed quickly, and pronounced, "That's just wrong!"
His verdict on the zucchini sticks: "I really like the crunchy part!" Still, I consider this a successful implementation of vegetables. Read on for the recipes...
1 large or 2 small zucchinis
Italian breadcrumbs (about 1/2 cup)
Panko breadcrumbs (1/4 cup)
Freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano (1/4 cup or less)
Salt and pepper (1/4 tsp. each)
Cut the zucchini into wedges. Whisk the eggs in a bowl. In a separate bowl combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, and salt and pepper. Place a wire rack on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and spray with cooking spray. Dip zucchini slices in eggs first, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Set on wire rack and spray top of zucchini with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until zucchini is tender and crumbs turn golden brown.
4 pieces of low-fat mozzarella string cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Cut each string cheese stick into four pieces. Spray a small cookie sheet with cooking spray. Use the same process as above, dipping each piece in egg and then in breadcrumbs. I found it faster to do this in batches (put 5-6 pieces of cheese in the egg, then move them to the breadcrumbs individually). Once all mozzarella bites are on the baking sheet, spray them lightly with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes (check starting at 3 minutes just to make sure they don't start melting or burning).
Serve with marinara sauce or sun-dried tomato pesto (we had both)! I used these as our "sides" when we had spaghetti and a green salad.
And do you have any miracle recipes for getting kids to eat veggies? I am certainly open to suggestions!