Thursday, August 4, 2011

Summer Squash Fry

It's a tough reality for most Chicagoans to face, but we are well into August, and summer is just beginning its descent into fall. To celebrate rather than mourn the turning of another season, I made a delightful snack of fried summer squash: zucchini and yellow. Using this dish as a vehicle to compare different kinds of oil, I fried the squash in olive, sesame and grapeseed oils to test taste and frying ability. All are unrefined oils that do not contain trans fats, and have been exposed to little or no processing. Though sesame and olive are both mid-heat oils and not exactly ideal for frying, I wanted to use their flavors to buttress my two versions of the squash -- one with Italian and one with Indian seasonings -- so I tried them anyway. Grapeseed was, in fact, the best for frying with a higher heat tolerance, but has no discernible flavor.

Even if you couldn't give two hoots about where your food comes from and what happens to it before it hits your taste buds, I'm a firm believer that it is worth understanding the difference between refined vs unrefined oils. If you're as ignorant to this as I am to the rules of Olympic curling, well, you can learn more here: The Difference Between Refined and Unrefined Oils.

If you are working up a mild sweat in anticipation of what I did with the dang squash, then just keep reading.

I prepared the squash homogeneously, but seasoned them two ways for varied flavors. For this recipe you will need:

1 zuccinni & 1 yellow squash, sliced into discs about 3/8" thick (just over a quarter inch)
1 tablespoon of your favorite unrefined oil, preferably with a high smoke point
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1/3 cup low fat Greek yogurt
1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
salt to taste
Italian herbs, dried or fresh, to taste
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1-2 teaspoons curry powder
a few springs of fresh, flat leaf parsley 
1/2 lemon and its juice
  1. Pour oil in pan and bring up to heat -- be careful, how hot you get the pan depends on the smoke point of your oil, and you do NOT want the oil to start smoking in the pan. Keep the flame on low or mid-level heat while you prepare the remainder of your dish, and watch it carefully.
  2. Put the cornstarch in a shallow plate or dish, and the yogurt in a small bowl. 
  3. Mix the breadcrumbs, salt, crushed red pepper, and dried herbs in shallow dish
    Mix the breadcrumbs, salt, and curry powder (yeah turmeric!) in a separate shallow dish.

  1. Dredge each disc in a VERY fine dusting of cornstarch -- the thinnest possible coat. 
  2. Dip the dredged discs in the yogurt -- you may need to thin the yogurt with its own juices, or water, so you can easily shake off any excess.
  3. Roll each piece in the breadcrumb mixtures and set aside.
  4. Roughly chop your parsley so that the leaves remain, for the most part, whole. Discard the stems. 
  5. Finish bringing your pan up to heat. You should see ripples in the oil but no smoke. 
  6. Place as many discs as will fit on the pan without crowding -- as the dearly beloved Julia taught us, if you crowd your veggies, they don't brown!
  7. Fry for about a minute on one side, then add your parsley and stand back, because the moisture from the parsley makes the oil sputter!


9. Flip onto the squash onto the other side and fry for another minute or so, until both sides have a developed a deep, brown crust, then transfer to a paper towel-lined bowl or colander. Be sure to watch your parsley and remove it from the pan before it turns brown -- it should be crisp but still green at this stage. 

10. Sprinkle the crispy parsley over the squash, spritz the lot of it with some lemon juice, and get to steppin'! This dish gets soggy and unappetizing when cold, so be sure to enjoy immediately after preparation.

1 comment:

  1. Can I substitute Key Lime FroYo for the low fat Greek yogurt in this recipe? I have some extra lying around...