Here’s a guilt-free way to indulge your need for fries (because, seriously! who doesn’t have a NEED for fries). The recipe for these crunchy panko baked Zucchini Fries with Tomato Aioli is from Mario Batali’s new book America Farm to Table Simple,Delicious Recipes Celebrating Local Farmers.
Not too long ago I had an opportunity to attend a book signing and hear Mario talk about his latest book. The event was put on by one of my favorite local stores here in Seattle, the Book Larder. This little shop is a cookbook mecca! In fact, that’s the only kind of books you’ll find there…walls and walls of beautiful cookbooks. It's easy to get lost in all those culinary possibilities.
The event took place at Town Hall and local Chef Matt Dillon (2012 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef Northwest) joined Mario for what proved to be a lively, highly entertaining talk (read, my cheeks were aching at the end of the evening from smiling and laughing so much) .
America Farm to Table pays homage to the American farmer and highlights the importance of great, local ingredients and all the hard work and dedication that goes into producing the food we eat. Batali teamed up with his chef friends around the USA and asked for their input on their favorite local farmers. Those local farmers are featured in the book along with the ingredient specialties of the farm.
Never one to be shy about sitting in the front row, I usually seek out a seat up front so I can see and hear what it going on. I’m always shocked by how many people choose to sit in the back of a room vs. the front at big events ? I don’t get it, but I’m not complaining, it usually means I have no problem getting to the front of the room.
Mario’s event was just the opposite, everyone clamoring to get as close to the stage as possible. I lucked out, and slinked into the old wooden pew looking bench and nabbed what might have been the last seat available in the front row. As it turns out, not only did I get the last available front row seat, but I was actually sitting next to Pierre Monnat, the farmer at Old Chaser Farm who is the highlighted Seattle farmer in the book. Lucky me!
These easy and tasty Zucchini Fries with Tomato Aioli are just the tip of iceberg of all the deliciousness in American Farm to Table. Food tastes better when it’s locally sourced and comes straight from the farm. Like to shop at the local farmers market? You’ll likely find Mario’s book a good go-to for recipe ideas to incorporate those seasonally fresh fruits and veggies.
Moi getting my book signed by Mario (photo from my phone- apologizes for the grainy quality)
A big huge thank you to all the hard working local farmers who bring us all fresh, healthy, nutritious ingredients everyday.
** Recipe adapted from American Farm to Table by Mario Batali (pg. 256)
Mario's Zucchini Fries
For the Tomato Aioli
- 2 large egg yolks reserve the whites for the zucchini fries
- 1 clove garlic
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 Tablespoons warm water
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
For the Zucchini Fries
- Olive oil cooking spray
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried chives
- 1 tablepoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 3 large egg whites whipped to very soft peaks
- 4 medium zucchini trimmed
For the Tomato Aioli
- In a blender, combine egg yolks, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and water and blend until fully combined. Drizzle in olive oil (with motor running )to form a creamy sauce.Season with salt and set aside.
For the Zucchini Fries
- Preheat oven to 475F. Prepare a baking the sheet with cooking spray.
- Line up three separate shallow bowls (or pie tins). In the first bowl, combine flour, parsley, chives and salt, Place the whipped egg whites in the In the second bowl, In the third bowl combine panko and Parmigiana-Romano.
- Slice zucchini into steak fry shaped pieces buy cutting zucchini in half lengthwise and then each half into 3 pieces.
- Prepare the zucchini for baking by dredging in flour mixture (bowl #1) , then dipping into egg whites (bowl #2) and finally dredging in panko crumbs (bowl #3). Place the coated zucchini on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer and bake until crispy golden brown (approx. 12 minutes) turning half way through.
- Serve hot with Tomato Aioli sauce.
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