Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Week 10: Oven-Fried Squash Sticks

Ah, CSA season. Time for lots of local food and healthful eating.

Yeah, who are we kidding? Last week we were noshing on chips and salsa. This week, we could have steamed or grilled our lovely squash, but ... Hey, let’s coat these babies in eggs and crunchy breadcrumbs and salty cheese ...

These are not deep-fried, so you could construe them as healthful. Or not. Regardless, they were mighty tasty.

Oven-Baked Squash Sticks
(Adapted from King Arthur Flour. Note that the squash should drain for 1 hour before breading, so PLAN AHEAD.)

   For Preparation Step

3 slender summer squash (straightneck), about 6 inches long
1 Tbsp salt

   For Coating and Baking

1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Scant 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Olive oil spray, or regular cooking spray

Preparation: Trim squash ends. Slice the squash in half crosswise, then cut each half into six (or more) sticks or wedges; these should be about 3 inches long. Place the sliced squash in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt. Let the squash drain for 1 hour or longer, then rinse and pat dry.

Coating and Baking: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray the paper with olive oil or regular cooking spray.

Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, and seasonings. Place half of the mixture into a shallow rimmed bowl, and set aside the rest. Lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Place the flour into a third bowl.

Dip the squash sticks individually into the flour, tapping off any excess with a fork; then into the egg, and then the breadcrumb mixture. Place the coated squash sticks onto the baking sheets. Use the reserved  breadcrumb mixture when needed; by adding to the crumb bowl periodically, you keep the mixture from getting too eggy to coat the squash well. (Also, it's a good idea whenever you are breading something to use only one hand for dipping ingredients, and keep your other hand clean.)

Bake the squash sticks for 12 minutes, then turn them over and bake for about 8 minutes more, or until they are golden brown and crisp. Serve hot, with marinara sauce or another sauce for dipping, as desired.

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