If Life Gives You Extra Zucchini, Fry It

When summer is at its height, zucchini are in full bloom and you may find yourself the recipient — willing or un — of a "gift" of surplus produce. Whether the gift comes from a neighbor or your own garden, you'll find yourself in need of ways to dispose of this bounty without wasting it. While we have no shortage of zucchini recipes that may appeal to fans of this vegetable, we do understand that there are those who find it, well, kind of icky. One of the least gross ways to prepare your zucchini is to make it into quick bread or cake, but another is to fry it.

One southern Italian recipe, zucchine alla scapece, involves frying zucchini and then marinating it in vinegar, but here we're taking an even simpler approach. Recipe developer Ksenia Prints also claims Italian origins for her "fritto zucca," or fried zucchini. As she tells us, "Fried zucchini is a mainstay on Italian restaurant menus." Rather than ordering it from a restaurant, though, she says, "Making it yourself is much faster, easier, and — dare we say — healthier than ordering in." In addition to the zucchini needed to make it (Prints recommends thinner-skinned ones), you'll need bread crumbs, parmesan, eggs, and flour for the coating as well as oil for frying.

How to make fried zucchini

The first step in making fried zucchini is to cut the vegetables into ½-inch thick slices. "Try to slice at a diagonal so that your slices are longer," says Prints, although she allows: "If you end up with just rounds, that's totally fine too." Strips or spears, though, she finds don't get as crunchy when cooked. Once the zucchini is sliced, dip the pieces first into flour, then into beaten egg, and finally into a mixture of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.

The last step in this fried zucchini recipe involves frying the zucchini, of course. Pour a cup of oil into a large, heavy pan and heat it up, as Prints describes it, "to a point where a bit of batter thrown in will bubble immediately and rise to the surface." Put a few slices into the pan and fry them for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Repeat until all of the zucchini slices are fried, draining the cooked ones on paper towels to absorb excess grease. Season the fried zucchini as desired and add a dunking sauce if you wish.

Prints cautions that these fried zucchini need to be eaten right away as leftovers don't keep well. Still, the recipe is easily scaled back to prepare only as much as you think you'll eat at a time. If you still find that you overestimated, though, you don't need to toss out the uneaten zucchini as it'll re-crisp reasonably well under the broiler.