Zucchini Sticks With Spicy Pepper Sauce


As summer draws to an end, I often get many emails from folks asking for help to use up the over abundance of zucchini in their gardens. After coming up with every recipe they can think of to prepare their zucchini harvest, they are often feeling overwhelmed by zucchini and are looking for some new ideas. I love preparing zucchini in this manner as it is a delicious dish that can be used as an appetizer or as a vegetable side dish. The crispy brown crust is a nice contrast to the tender zucchini, and the addition of cheese really adds a lot of flavor. As usual, I use homemade bread crumbs which have much more flavor and better texture than store bought ones.

Instead of this spicy pepper dip I made, you could use any dip you prefer, including a simple tomato sauce, or a mayonnaise based dip. When I am using these zucchini sticks as a side dish I serve them without a dip, with just a squeeze of lemon on top. I normally use roasted peppers for this sauce, but I was in a hurry and pan fried them instead which worked out just as well. We like things spicy so I added some hot red pepper for heat but you could certainly omit this ingredient if you would prefer a milder sauce.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2011

Zucchini Sticks With Spicy Pepper Sauce

Crispy sticks of zucchini fried golden brown.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Medium Zucchini
  • 1 1/2 Cups Homemade Bread Crumbs
  • 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 2 Eggs, Lightly Beaten
  • Olive Oil Spray

Spicy Pepper Sauce:

  • 1 Red And 1 Orange Sweet Pepper
  • 1/2 Hot Red Pepper, Minced
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
  • 2 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil (Plus Additional If Needed)
  • 3 Plum Tomatoes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Chopped Parsley

Directions:

  1. To make the sauce, first core the peppers, remove seeds and dice.
  2. In a heavy frying pan, heat the oil and add the peppers and onions.
  3. Cook until the vegetables are very soft and are taking on a nice light brown color.
  4. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.
  5. Core the tomatoes, cut in half and gently squeeze to remove most of the seeds.
  6. Coarsely chop, then add to the pepper mixture.
  7. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and are breaking down, about 5 minutes.
  8. Place the vegetables in a food processor, and pulse until well blended.
  9. Season with salt and pepper, and continue to blend until you have a smooth sauce, adding a little addition olive oil if needed.
  10. Add the parsley and pulse until it is finely chopped into the sauce.
  11. Set aside until you are ready to use.
  12. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  13. Cut the ends off of the zucchini, then cut in half lengthwise.
  14. Cut each half into 6 to 8 sticks. Mix together the bread crumbs, cheese, oregano, salt and pepper.
  15. Dip the zucchini sticks first into the beaten eggs, then into the bread crumbs.
  16. Spray a baking sheet with the olive oil spray and place the breaded zucchini sticks on the sheet.
  17. When all of the zucchini are breaded, spray the top with more of the olive oil spray.
  18. Bake the zucchini until golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  19. Serve the zucchini hot on a platter with a small bowl of the pepper sauce next to them for dipping.