Don’t you love it when everything seems to be going wrong and nothing is going to work out and you are totally overwhelmed and lost in the mess of trying to sort things out and you’re not even sure what to do next and then you suddenly realize that, wait a second . . . actually, everything is perfect? And everything is going to work out even better than you had planned? It’s amazing that this kind of thing even happens, but it does. I’m not going to say it happens often, at least not in my life, but it happens. Sometimes it’s big things — like that time I thought I was virtually being rejected by my university of choice, only to find out that they were going to offer me a better deal than I could have hoped for — and sometimes it’s small things, like figuring out what I’m going to serve for dinner when I suddenly have guests that I forgot I had invited.
Yeah, small things sometimes make a big difference. Especially when I’ve been with the boys all day and I’m looking forward to Micah coming home in an hour and then he calls and says he’s been sucked into a vortex at work and may not be home until late (very late), that I’m on my own, that I should go ahead and have dinner with the boys because it’s going to be a late night. And then I get another call reminding me of the dinner guests coming the next night and I think, “But what on earth am I going to feed them on such short notice?!?” And just when I’m about to resign myself to serving grilled cheese sandwiches to our guests, a light shines down from heaven and I remember that I have four and a half zucchinis in the fridge. The possibilities there are practically endless. The result will undoubtedly be tasty, at least marginally healthy, and — hooray! — seasonal.
And I was totally right: the zukes saved my sanity. Three of them went to these extremely tasty baked zucchini sticks and the rest got shredded into bits and cooked into a cake. And I apologize, but you’re going to have to wait until next week for that one. It’s totally worth the wait, by the way. But first things first. Make these zuke sticks (and the dip) now. We can talk about the cake later.
Zucchini Sticks with Sweet Onion Dip adapted from King Arthur Flour
(I prepared a couple of cans of artichoke hearts along with the zucchini sticks — I just drained them well, then dredged them in the eggs and rolled them in the crumbs after I was finished with the zucchini and baked them together on the same baking sheets. They were a fabulous addition and I recommend trying it sometime.)
For the Dip:
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium sweet onion peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon mustard (yellow, brown, dijon, whatever)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat until melted. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and caramelized, 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cider vinegar to the onions. Stir together. Move the onions to a food processor or blender. Add the honey and mustard. Process or blend until fairly smooth. Move to a bowl and stir in the mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Zucchini Sticks:
3 medium zucchinis, cut into 3-inch long sticks (about 1/2 inch thick)
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
Place the zucchini sticks in a colander and toss with the salt. Let drain for at least and hour, then rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Preheat oven to 425 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil. Mix the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese in a bowl and lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Dredge the zucchini sticks, 4-5 at a time, in the eggs, then roll in the crumb mixture. Arrange on the baking sheets. (It works best if you use one hand to put the zucchini in and out of the eggs, and the other hand to roll it in the crumbs — if you use one hand to do both, you end up with a mass of wet bread crumbs.) Repeat with the remaining zucchini sticks. Bake for 12 minutes, rotate the pans, and then bake for 8-10 more minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Serve with the dip.