Friday, August 15, 2014

Crispy Zucchini Caprese with Reduced Balsamic

Approximately 100 tomatoes are growing in my garden right now. One hundred tomatoes, dozens of hot peppers, forty carrots, two chard plants, four kale plants, two watermelons, two pumpkins, and one cantaloupe. It's a banner year for the garden. One year I can't wrestle one red tomato away from the squirrels and the raccoons and the next I'm beginning to ponder eating tomatoes like apples given the bounty.

In the farm share, the zucchini, cucumbers, and corn are plentiful. For lunch yesterday, I ate an ear of corn, a cucumber, and an enormous carrots because at some point you quit trying to come up with clever ways to cook all of this produce and just eat it as is. This is the beauty of summer though and I don't for one minute take for granted being surrounded by all this goodness.

But if you don't want to eat a tomato like an apple, I can't blame you. While nothing compares to the goodness that is a tomato straight off the vine, I too prefer mine with some accompaniments. Since it's summer, we would be remiss not to talk about caprese once. Caprese highlights summer tomatoes in all their glory.

While I love the standard no frills caprese, I can never leave well enough alone. Armed with an arsenal of zucchini I decided nothing would be better than breading and pan frying the zucchini and adding it to caprese salad. It's crispy crunch is the perfect textural contrast. Even better with the reduced balsamic, which concentrates the sweetness of the vinegar. I can't get enough.

Crispy Zucchini Caprese with Reduced Balsamic 
Serves 2, zucchini adapted from How Sweet Eats

1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4" inch rounds
1 large egg
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup parmesan
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2" rounds
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2" rounds and then rounds cut in half
8 basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk egg in one bowl. In another bowl, whisk together panko, flour, parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. Coat each zucchini round in the egg then dredge in the bread crumb mixture, pressing to adhere.

Line a plate with a paper towel. Heat a skillet with the olive oil on medium high heat. Once hot, carefully place zucchini slices in the pan. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Use a spatula to flip half way. After all the slices have been fried, place on the paper towel lined plate.

Pour balsamic into a saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high and simmer until reduced by half, 7-8 minutes.

While the balsamic is reducing, prepare your caprese. Alternate zucchini, tomatoes, and mozzarella on a plate. Tear basil leaves in half and scatter over the top. Sprinkle over salt and pepper to your desire. Using a spoon drizzle balsamic over the top.

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