Baked Zucchini Sticks and Sweet Onion Dip

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Here’s a guilt-free way to enjoy the crunchy outside (and juicy inside) of a restaurant-style zucchini stick
Baked Zucchini Sticks and Sweet Onion Dip
Yield: about 3 dozen zucchini sticks, and 1 1/2 cups dip
Ingredients:
Dip:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium sweet onion, about 1/2 pound, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Zucchini sticks:
  • 3 medium zucchini, unpeeled, cut into 3″-long stick
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup coarse, dry bread crumbs (e.g., panko)
  • scant 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Pizza Seasoning or mixed Italian herbs
  • olive oil spray
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute; or 2 large eggs; or 3 egg whites, lightly beaten

 

Directions:
1) To make the dip: Melt the butter in a medium frying pan over moderate heat, and add the sliced onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, then caramelize. This should take between 10 and 15 minutes. The lower the heat, the longer it takes, but the less likely you are to burn the onions.
2) Once the onions are a medium brown, remove from the heat and add the vinegar.
3) Place the onions and vinegar into a small food processor. Add the honey and mustard, and process or blend until smooth.
4) Add the mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste, stirring to combine. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
5) To make the zucchini sticks: Place the zucchini sticks in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with the tablespoon of salt. Let the zucchini drain for 1 hour or longer; rinse and pat dry.
6) Combine the Panko, Parmesan, and pizza seasoning; set aside.
7) Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and spray the parchment with olive oil.
8) Dredge sticks a few at a time in the egg, then roll in the crumb mixture. Place the sticks on the prepared baking sheet.
9) Bake sticks for 12 minutes, turn over, and bake for an additional 8 minutes, until golden brown and crisp.
10) Serve immediately, with sweet onion dip.
On average, two restaurants a week closed in the year to the end of March, including casual dining chains, as well as upmarket and independent establishments, according to the latest data from analysts CGA and corporate advisory firm AlixPartners. Graeme Smith, the managing director of AlixPartners, said he expected restaurant numbers to continue to drop throughout the year as large chains in particular slim down. There have already been high-profile closures by burger chain Byron, Jamie’s Italian, Carluccio’s, the Prezzo Group and Sir Terence Conran’s Albion restaurants, but more large chains and independents are expected to suffer. “It’s easy to say this is a crisis in casual dining,” said Peter Martin at CGA. “This is a crisis happening for everyone.” Restaurants are suffering because the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote has made ingredients more expensive while staff costs have risen, partly due to increases in the minimum wage. Economic uncertainty has stalled growth in the sector just as competition has increased after a surge in openings partly fuelled by private equity investment.

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