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Cheesy Breaded Zucchini
Golden brown and crispy without a drop of oil!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the biggest challenge of cooking without oil is mental. You have to get over thinking you need it. And the only way to do that is to just skip it altogether and try. Once you’ve done it, that silly doubt will go away and soon your kitchen won’t have that “just in case” bottle in the cupboard anymore.
Anything you can do with oil, you can do without oil. It only takes a little bit of practice.
Coconut oil has double the saturated fat content of pure lard. (Lard is pig fat.)
See how everything you thought you knew about food was really just marketing, aka brainwashing, aka lies?
Oils are bad, mmkay?
A word about ingredients
If you are new to this, you might be thrown by ingredients like nutritional yeast, flaxseed, and chia seeds. But trust me, these are going to be some of your new staples. The nooch has B12, which they say vegans don’t get enough of. (Truth is nobody gets enough.) The seeds are jam packed with the Omega 3s. Bet you thought you could only get those from fish or seaweed. As for the silicone baking mat, this is essential for oil-free baking. I’ll pop some links at the bottom of this recipe in case you need them.
Now, here’s how to make golden brown “fried” zucchini without a single drop of oil.
4 Slices Ezekial bread (Ezekiel bread is not Gluten Free. Substitute your best whole grain GF bread. Drier breads are best. You can also just buy whole grain, gluten free breadcrumbs, but they can be hard to find. Alternatively, try “Nut crumbs” a bread crumb like item made of ground nuts) You’ll need 2/3 cup dry bread crumbs.
2/3 cup nutritional yeast
2/3 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 heaping tablespoon ground chia seeds or ground flaxseed
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 small zucchinis (Smaller zucchinis are more tender, have fewer seeds. The bigger they are, the lower the quality.)
This method requires a silicone baking mat or silicone baking pan
Make the bread crumbs
Pre-heat the oven to 425.
Put a wire rack atop a baking sheet to keep crumbs out of the oven. Lay the bread slices on the rack, and bake until they are completely dry, turning once or twice during the baking time. This can take 15 or 20 minutes, but you really have to feel your way through this as it depends on the bread.
When the bread is brown and toasty and you think it’s completely dry, take it out and let it cool on the rack.
Throw the slices into a food processor or high-speed blender and process it into crumbs. If there are still big hunks of bread left after processing, you didn’t bake it long enough. You can stick the moist pieces back into the oven for a few more minutes if you need to. You need about 2/3 cups of bread crumbs.
*The toasting/drying out of the bread can also be accomplished with a toaster.
While the bread crumbs toast, slice the zucchini
The thinner you slice it, the crisper it will bake. So slice them super thin.
Make the coating mix
Mix about 2/3 cup of the bread crumbs with 2/3 cup nutritional yeast. Add a heaping tablespoon of chia seeds (or flaxseed) and two teaspoons of garlic powder (or to taste.)
Create your assembly line
On your workspace, line up the sliced zucchini, then a small dish of the veggie broth, then a wide bowl full of coating mix, then your silicone-lined baking sheet. (Useless trivia: I always do this right-to-left for some reason, maybe because I’m left handed, or maybe because my oven is on my left when I stand facing my countertop, or maybe just because I’m odd by nature.)
Dip a slice of zucchini into the broth. Get it very wet. Then dip it into the coating mix. Press the zucchini hard into the mix. Push it underneath, flip it over, press it again to get it really coated. Then take it out and lay it on the baking sheet.
Repeat with every slice.
Put the pan on the middle rack. Bake about 12 to 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and flip each slice.
Return to oven, bottom rack this time.
Bake until they are as crispy as you want them. Sample a slice as you go along.
Thicker slices will stay moist and tender. Thinner slices will get crispier. I like them to be a little bit crispy with some tenderness remaining.
Experiment. Maybe the first time through, try taking half of the slices out sooner, and baking the other half longer, just as an experiment to see what you like best.
Options & Tips
You can also cook the slices in an air fryer.
FUN FACT: A convection oven functions in the same way as an air fryer. In fact, newer model ovens are being marketed with an “air fryer” feature that is really just the old convection feature, renamed.
Here are some links for some of the items needed to make this recipe. These are affiliate links, which means Amazon shoots me a few cents on each purchase. This does not change your purchase price. The ‘Zon foots the bill.
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