Easy, Crispy, “Fried” Vegetables

Crispy, delicious eggplant slices on top of spaghetti with a rich tomato sauce. Fried pickles with ranch and a cold beer on a hot summer day. Fried zucchini and mushrooms are another favorite that take me back to Grandma’s house. Swinging my feet at her dining room table waiting for a plate of fried mushrooms, cauliflower, and zucchini.

Crispy eggplant

I rarely fill the Dutch oven with oil. The grease and dripping fried food doesn’t appeal to me as much as it used to. Here is an easy way to transform vegetables into crispy, baked, “fried” foods perfect as a main dish, side dish, or great snack after watering the gardens. This basic recipe works for pretty much any vegetable (even chicken if you didn’t name yours).

I mixed cornmeal with flavored bac’n bits, flour, and salt and pepper to make fried pickles.
  • If you are starting with something moist, like pickles or chicken, get three cereal bowls out and put flour in the first one.
  • If you are using drier veggies, like zucchini or eggplant, take out two. Crack a few fresh eggs in one bowl and whisk (if you are vegan, almond milk works just fine).
  • Pour panko in the last bowl. I sometimes like to mix panko with cornmeal, or if I am out of panko, I mix cornmeal with flour. Add any blend of spices you like into the panko. I add salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, then add Italian spices, Mexican spices, or curry depending on what I am making. Maybe just a little rosemary or thyme, or Parmesan, or just salt and pepper! Cooking is a sensory experience, so just add by feel.
  • For wet vegetables (or the unnamed chicken breasts), cover in flour first (rinse and pat dry before dipping into flour).
  • Dip everything in egg then in panko mixture.
  • Place vegetables on an oiled (olive oil) cookie sheet. In the summer, I love to use my toaster oven for cooking. (If you are baking chicken, cook at 375 degrees for one hour in a casserole dish. When poked with the tip of a knife, the juices should be clear.)
  • Bake vegetables at 425 in the toaster oven for 10-15 minutes, turning once, until crisp and smelling heavenly.

Fresh vegetables are abundant right now and salads are fabulous, but sometimes we need to bite into crisp, battered vegetables dipped in something cold and savory to really enjoy the good life!

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