I haven’t always been the biggest fan of zucchini, but this year I’m doing my best to embrace the Summer squash with open arms. And you know what? It’s been surprisingly simple. I started with baby steps – if you haven’t tried this 20 minute spicy sriracha shrimp and zucchini lo mein, well, go check it out now – and I’ve worked my way up to enjoying it on a much larger scale. Are you a fan of zucchini? Even if you’re not, I highly suggest reading on! I’ve got some cheesy, crunchy, super crispy zucchini sticks that might just twist your arm over to their side 😉 Bonus: They’re lightened up and dare I say… healthy! They also involve a spicy marinara dipping sauce situation that’s sure to please.
These zucchini sticks were born from a major craving for french fries, and my new favorite game, working with what you’ve already got on hand. I used whole wheat panko crumbs and a little parmesan cheese to ensure a super crispy, flavorful exterior, and woo-boy did they deliver! I also pan fried the zucchini sticks first – in just a little olive oil – before baking them in the oven. The extra step of pan frying may seem a little annoying, but I promise you it’s an important part of the process, and will guarantee you crispy, golden zucchini sticks that aren’t one tiny bit soggy/mushy/etc.
Crispy Zucchini Sticks with Spicy Marinara Dipping Sauce
2 cups whole wheat panko bread crumbs
5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
5 tablespoons whole wheat flour
4 medium zucchinis, sliced into 2 x 1⁄2 -inch sticks
4-5 tablespoons olive oil, more/less as needed
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup classic marinara sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat the oven to 425°(F).
Place the bread crumbs, Parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and pepper in a large, shallow dish. Mix the ingredients with your fingertips until well combined; set aside.
Beat the egg and sriracha in a large shallow dish; set aside.
Place the flour in a large shallow dish.
Dip the zucchini in the flour – shaking off any excess flour, then in the egg mixture, and then in the bread crumb mixture. Repeat for all cut zucchini sticks.
Heat a very large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add breaded zucchini sticks, a few at a time, and cook for 4 minutes on one side.
Turn the zucchini and slide the skillet into the preheated oven. Bake for about 8 minutes or until the zucchini is tender and golden. Sprinkle with salt and parmesan if desired and serve immediately with the sauce.
For the sauce:
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet. Add pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds, add in sauce and warm for 5 minutes. Serve warm with sticks.