I’ve written before about my childhood love for cheeseburgers. However, I’ve never talked about how I eventually branched out into new territory and found a second favorite food to order at restaurants. Enter Chicken Parmesan. What I loved the most about this Italian dish was that it not only consisted of two big crisp-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside chicken breasts, smothered in marinara sauce and melted mozzarella. But, it always came with a bonus side of linguini smothered in even more sauce and cheese. Heavenly.
Heavenly, but not exactly healthy. That’s why I’ve brought back my childhood fave in baked, vegetarian form. I replaced the breaded chicken with large, tender slabs of breaded zucchini, and I baked them until crisp. How’s that for a healthy, meatless swap?
Don’t be intimidated by the breading process. It’s quick and easy, and aside from the zucchini, I can guarantee you already have most, if not all, the ingredients in your pantry and fridge. Let’s break it down:
⁃Eggs: Beat and pour into a shallow dish.
⁃Breadcrumbs: Buy them bagged at the grocery store. Or, grab a few slices of sandwich bread, toast them up, and then grind them into crumbs. Stir in the seasonings and pour onto a plate.
⁃Zucchini: Grab two large zucchinis and cut them in half horizontally and slice each piece into thirds.
⁃Breading: Take a piece of zucchini, dip it in the egg, and coat well in the breadcrumbs, and place in baking sheet. Repeat.
Then, it’s time to bake in the oven until crisp. While you’re waiting, get your favorite pasta or pasta swap ready to go. I went for whole wheat pasta because zoodles seemed like zucchini overload. You’ll also want to get some marinara sauce on deck. If you’re looking for a homemade, all-natural sauce, check out this post for a great recipe!
When the zucchini and pasta are ready, start by layering a bed of pasta in the bottom of a bowl, top with marinara sauce, and then place 2 or 3 breaded zucchini pieces on top. Be sure to finish it off with a healthy sprinkle of parm or mozzarella!
Guys, I was skeptical about this recipe when I first made it. Would breaded and baked zucchini stand up to my beloved breaded and fried chicken? Trust me, it does. The zucchini gets impressively crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, making for a surprisingly hearty meat swap. Pair the crispy zucchini with a bowl of pasta and marinara sauce and you’ve got yourself a healthy, vegetarian meal in less than 45 minutes!
- 2 large zucchini
- 1 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon of pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce (or 1 batch of sauce from this recipe)
- Prepare the zucchini: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice each zucchini in half. Then, cut each half into 3 long strips, yielding 12 strips total.
- Prepare the breading: On a plate or in a shallow dish, stir together the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Crack 2 eggs into a dish and whisk.
- Bread the zucchini: Dip each zucchini piece into the egg mixture and then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Place each breaded zucchini piece on a lined baking sheet.
- Bake the zucchini: Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Then, flip the pieces over and bake for another 4-6 minutes. The zucchini is finished when it’s crispy and golden brown.
- Serve: Serve the zucchini pieces over spaghetti noodles, zucchini noodles, or your favorite pasta. Top with marinara sauce.
If there are leftovers, I don’t recommend reheating the zucchini in the microwave because the breading will be mushy. Place the zucchini on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes until the breading is crispy again.