There they were. Zucchinis. Three of them. "Why did you buy these?" I asked Frank, probably in a rude tone that was completely unnecessary. Poor Frank. "They were on the list," he replied. "Why were... ohhhhh." Right. Today was the day. I had made up my mind to face my bogey man. And I had put it right there on the list, along with things that I actually wanted to eat. Things that I would much rather spend my time cooking than... zucchini. Shudder. I sliced the zucchini into thin ribbons, salted them liberally, and placed them on a wire rack to drain. I figured if it works for eggplant, it just may work for zucchini as well. I've seen a lot of fun recipes for zucchini and cucumber rollups floating around the webosphere lately, and I wanted to give something like that a try. But deep down in my heart of hearts, I knew that I just wasn't ready for naked zucchini yet. It had to be... breaded... and there had to be another vegetable component, one that I earnestly enjoyed, one that could take my mind off of... the zucchini. Enter roasted tomatoes. I love them. Could eat them plain. And I even loved them in this. In fact, I even loved the zucchini in this. True Story.
I used Boursin in these because, well, that's what we had. But you could use any spreadable cheese. If you like it, then slather it on. Now that zucchini and I have reached a common ground, I am excited to explore other opportunities in our relationship. And I hope that you feel the same way.
Panko Fried Zucchini Rollups
3 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise to 1/4" thickness, salted and drained (directions follow)
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt (plus more for tomatoes and zucchini)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper, divided
2 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
1 cup spreadable cheese
vegetable oil, for frying
Place zucchini in one layer on wire rack and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt. Cover with cookie sheet and add weights to it (I use a few heavy bowls.) Let drain for 2 hours, then pat dry.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Add a little oil to tomatoes, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until they burst and skin begins to shrivel. Meanwhile, heat a large frying pan filled with at least 2 inches of vegetable oil to medium high heat. In shallow bowl, beat egg, mixing in salt, garlic powder, and pepper. In seperate shallow bowl, mix together panko breadcrumbs and parmesan. Dip zucchini slices in egg mixture first, letting excess drip back into the bowl, then dip in panko mixture and press to coat well. Fry in batches of 3-4 at a time until golden on both sides, then drain on paper towels. (Resist temptation to turn before they're ready, as this causes the panko to fall off. You'll know it's time when the sides start to turn golden brown.) Dot little bits of cream cheese onto the slices (I did 3 drops, about 1 tsp each.) After a few seconds, the cheese will have softened enough that you can easily spread it without messing up the breading. Then add 1 tomato to each one, and use toothpicks to secure. Finish off with a little extra grated parmesan. These are great dipped in tomato sauce or ranch.