This post has been sponsored by PAM® Spray Pump. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
One of my favorite things to do is reimagine a favorite food in a healthier version. This past week I have been craving a giant pile of French fries like nothing else but I am trying to eat a little more “health consciously” so I decided to make a veggie based French fry at home instead. Zucchini acted as the perfect imposter for my French fry craving, and the cilantro aioli was a zesty addition to sub for my typical ketchup-mayo combo I dip my fries in.
Like most recipes, this one starts with a routine trip to Kroger where I typically spend 15 minutes meandering through the produce aisle while simultaneously looking through Pinterest to see what I can turn that veggie into for dinner. I typically always grab some zucchini for “zoodles” during the week but with my craving for fries burgeoning in the back of my mind, I knew they’d make the perfect base for faux-fries.
Now, back when I was doing whole 30 diet circa 2014, I tried zucchini fries once before and they came out mushy and bland. This time I had a couple of tricks up my sleeve to get nice crisp fries. One is to add some panko crumbs the other is to salt cure the zucchini before you bake it.
‘What is salt-curing’ you may ask? It’s when you pull the moisture out of something using salt to get a firmer, flakier product. It works great for salmon, and it’s perfect for the bland and wet flesh of zucchini. Notice in the photo above how all the water droplets are sitting on top of the zucchini, that is the salt curing at work pulling the moisture out!
If you ever end up with soggy zoodles, this is a good trick to use in that application also.
Another problem with zucchini fries is that they often stick to whatever they are baked on. By the way, we’re baking these fries to a golden crisp, not dropping them in a pan of oil so they come out even lighter and more delightful than you expected.
As I exited the produce aisle at Kroger, I rounded the corner onto the baking and oil aisle looking for a spray canola oil to keep my fries from sticking during baking. I saw that PAM had just released a NEW Pump Cooking Spray in Canola Oil and thought that would give me the perfect control for non-stick oil application before cooking. I love using the new PAM Spray Pump for cooking and baking because the non-aerosol spray has fewer calories and less fat than butter, adding to our theme of lightened-up French fries. It also comes in a new olive oil Spray Pump, but for this recipe, you want to use canola oil because it has a higher smoke point than other oils and we’re cooking these fries at 425 degrees F.
The last thing I needed from Kroger before I left was a paper bag (as shown above). It played double duty as my mode of bringing home my groceries but also the base for catching the liquid that I pulled off the zucchini fries during the salt curing phase.
After giving my fries a proper salt cure, flour-egg-panko dredging, and then baking in the oven at 425 degrees F, they were ready to be transported into a serving vessel and dredged in cilantro aioli. As I went to go take the semi-cooled veggie fries off the rack, I had a moment of anxiety thinking that half of the breading was going to be left when I peeled the fry off, but to my amazement, the new PAM Spray Pump Canola Oil made it super easy to peel these off. Not one crumb was left on the rack! Not to mention, they crisped up so nicely thanks to the additional canola oil you spray on halfway through baking, they had that same indulgent crunch a good French fry has.
Shop the New Pam Pump Spray Canola Oil to your shopping bag by clicking here.
- 2 Medium Zucchini, skin on, sliced into 1/4 inch fries
- 3 Tablespoons of salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 cup of panko crumbs
- 1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- 1 Teaspoon Cayenne
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Pam Canola Oil Pump Spray
- 1/3 cup of cilantro
- 1/2 lemon juice
- 1 clove of garlic
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- Line a cooking sheet with a paper bag and layer your zucchini fries on them. Generously sprinkle salt over the top of the fries. Place in Fridge for an hour up to over night to Salt Cure and pull the moisture out of the fries.
- When you've finished salt curing your fries, you'll notice the water droplets that have pooled on top of the fries, wipe those off with a paper towel.
- Preheat your oven to 425 Degrees F.
- Place your flour in one bowl, then mix your panko and seasonings in another bowl. Break your eggs into a bowl and scramble the yolk and whites together.
- Take one zucchini fry and dip it in the flour, then egg, then panko, and place it on a baking rack that has been sprayed with Pam Canola Oil Pump Spray.
- Repeat the process until all fries have been dredged in panko crumb.
- Spray the top of the fries with more Pam Canola Oil Pump Spray, then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the panko starts to get golden brown. No need to flip the fries.
- While the fries are cooking, in a food processor, combine all aioli ingredients and pulse until it's well blended. Store in fridge until ready to serve.
- When fries are done, remove from cooking rack, and serve with aioli.