I have declared these little bites one of the best ways to lap up zucchini this summer.
I realize that I have zero authority to declare this, but once you try these I think you will agree.
In all seriousness though, I know this is kind of a crazy recipe. Especially for summer food. Summer food is supposed to be all about light and healthy. These definitely would work nicely in the fall, especially come football season (perfect game-day food!). Lucky for us though, zucchini is here now, which gives us the perfect excuse for a little summer indulgence.
Not to mention a way to use up all that zucchini that by now your gardens are probably starting to overflow with.
Perfect. See, I am trying to make room for all the other veggies in your gardens to have room to flourish this summer.
My motto is no veggie goes to waste.
Originally when I thought of this recipe, I was thinking of making them into fried zucchini rolls, but then I tried slicing the zucchini into thin, long strips and well, I just did not have to patience for it. So, I went the easier route and sliced the zucchini into rounds.
I was pretty scared that once I put the little mac and cheese zucchini sammies into the hot oil everything would just melt all over and be a huge mess, but I was very happy to see that everything stayed pretty much intact. Yes!
I made a fresh batch of mac and cheese the night before making these, but you could use any leftover mac and cheese too. You only need about 2 cups total, so you can either use leftover, or make a fresh batch and have leftover.
Either route will work great.
All that matters is that you get some cheesy mac and cheese stuffed in between two zucchini slices, dip them in egg, and roll them all over in bread crumbs. Make sure to really get them coated in the egg and especially the bread crumbs. That’s what makes them all crispy and DELICIOUS.
Sorry, but you gotta use oil. No oven frying. For these oil really just works best. I promise the taste of these bites will be well worth the pain of dealing with hot oil.
Once they go in the oil it only takes a few minutes for you to realize just how good things are getting. Oh, and you have to eat these HOT. Like right out of the oil, it’s the best way. They are crispy on the outside, but all melty on the inside. It’s seriously the best.
No really, THE BEST.
Everyone knows that in the summer, weekends really begin after the work day on Thursday. These are just the thing to kick off a head start into the weekend. So go ahead, give them a fry!
- 1 pound elbow pasta
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 3/4 cups warm milk (I used 2%)
- 2 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup fontina cheese, shredded (add an extra 1/4 cup...if you want!)
- 1 1/4 cups havarti cheese, shredded
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/3 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 3 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds*
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until al-dente. Drain.
In the same pot you boiled the pasta in, melt the 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let cook/bubble for 1 minute, stirring once or twice to avoid burning. Gradually whisk in the milk and raise the heat up to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently until the sauce has thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in all of the cheese, mustard powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese is fully melted. Stir in the pasta and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Cover the mac and cheese and refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight.
In a shallow pie plate or bowl, toss together the parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, flour, salt and pepper. In another separate bowl whisk together the eggs.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place your zucchini rounds in stacks of two. Grab one zucchini round, now scoop out about 1 tablespoon of mac and cheese, place the mac and cheese on top of the bottom round. Now add the top round like you would a sandwich. You want the mac and cheese to just fit inside the rounds. Push down slightly on the top slice of zucchini to secure the mac and cheese in between the slices. Place on the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining slices of zucchini. You will not use all of the mac and cheese.
Using your hands grab one zucchini sandwich at a time and dip it into the eggs. Make sure to coat the sandwich fully in eggs. It''s gonna slip all over the place, but just do your best. Once the zucchini is coated in egg, stick a toothpick through the middle to secure everything in place. Dip the zucchini through the bread crumb mixture until completely coated all around. Make sure the mac and cheese that is not covered by zucchini gets coated as well. Place back on the baking sheet and repeat the process until all the zucchini sandwiches have been breaded. Place the tray in the fridge while you heat the oil. If it is hot in your kitchen and the mac and cheese seems warm, keep the zucchini in the fridge until the mac and cheese is firm again, about 30 minutes.
Heat a few inches of oil (enough to submerge the zucchini's) in a heavy bottom high sided skillet or pot to 350 degrees F.
Once hot, remove the zucchini's from the fridge and place only a few at time in the oil. Fry for for 1-2 minutes, flipping throughout cooking if need. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining zucchini sandwich. Eat while hot!
*Try to choose zucchini that is not very large. If you have a big one the middle gets watery and does not work as well with this. Smaller size zucchinis are best.
**Mac and Cheese adapted from [my favorite recipe | http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/creamy-brie-four-cheese-mac-cheese-buttery-ritz-crackers/]
Then soak up all the delicious summer flavors!
If you make this recipe, be sure to tag your photo #halfbakedharvest.