As a meal planning maniac, I’m always on the look out or new ways to do veggies. Veggies are good for you and many are free points on Weight Watchers. I also hate being repetitive in my cooking or getting bored with the idea of anything I want/plan to cook. Therefore, I mix it up often. As I meal plan, I always start with the main dish and build around it. When I picked BLT Lettuce Wraps as a main dish for the weekly menu, I thought it would be a good time to incorporate something still healthy, but a little less healthy than my normal zero or as close to zero point veggie side attempts.
This past September a friend and I had just discovered Pinterest. We were obsessed and looking at recipes and DIY projects like crazy. She found a baked zucchini sticks recipe with a rich onion dipping sauce. I found a cute wreath idea. And thus began our afternoon. The sticks and dip were divine! I knew someday I’d make them again. The baked zucchini sticks were perfect as is, low fat and tasty. The dip however, needed some Weight Watcher friendly adjustments calling for 1 cup of full fat mayo in the original recipe (which is exactly how we made it the first time).
I like things in threes. It’s more pleasing to the eye and it just makes sense. A meal doesn’t feel rounded to me unless it has three. What pairs well with BLT Lettuce Wraps and Baked Zucchini Sticks? Sweet potato fries of course. It officially became a meal I was super excited to make.
Anything that stars with caramelized onions is a winner in my book. Onions cooking on a stove top truly is one of the best smells in the world to me. So let’s start with the dip. (In actual chronological cooking/prep order, I wouldn’t do the dip first. Cut the veggies and let them do their assigned marinating/liquid shedding tasks first. While they do that, work on the dip.)
Skinny Sweet Onion Dip
adapted recipe from kingarthurflour.com’s
- 2 yellow or white onions, sliced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp powdered sugar (optional)
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
- 1 cup Kraft Fat Free Mayo
- 1/4 tsp salt
Heat oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally. Even though it’s tempting, don’t turn the temperature up to cook them faster. Medium-low, 4 or 5 on my stove, is perfect. Let them get caramelized and browned. You want to see brown. It’s essential for the flavor and color of the dip. They should cook for 25 minutes. When there is 5 minutes remaining, you can sprinkle some powdered sugar over the onions. I feel like this helps them brown a little more and adds to their sweet caramelized flavor.
Add vinegar, honey, and mustard into a small food processor. I used my big one because I enjoy using it. A blender would also work if you don’t have a food processor. When the onions finish add them to the processor. Pulse until it sort of resembles the consistency of apple sauce. Fold in mayo until onion mixture and mayo are combined, smooth, and creamy. Stir in salt.
Now to go with our amazing savory sweet oniony dip, we need things to dip.
Baked Zucchini Sticks
Original recipe at kingarthorflour.com. I pretty much followed her instructions and recipe exactly, but I used egg beaters instead of eggs, Italian seasoning instead of pizza seasoning, and part reduced fat parmesan and part regular shredded.
- 3 – 4 small to medium straight zucchinis
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 cup Egg Beaters (or 2 large eggs beaten)
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
- 1/4 cup reduced fat parmesan
Wash zucchini and cut into 3 inch sticks. She posts a perfect picture on how to cut them (I forgot to take one during that step). The way it worked best for me was to cut it in half, not lengthwise, but down the middle. Think hamburger cut not hot dog cut. Cut off the ends. Stand each half on a flat end. Cut in nines. Like a tic tac to board sort of. Two cuts north to south and two cuts across west to east. You’ll end up with 9 pieces from each half, 18 per each zucchini. Put all the pieces in a strainer and place a bowl under it. Sprinkle the entire tablespoon of salt over the sticks. Sit the zucchini in the refrigerator for at least an hour and let the salt work it’s magic. DON’T skip this step! It’s essential for ending up with firm crisp sticks and not soggy wet ones. It really does drain a lot of water (see above picture with odd light green looking liquid).
Once the hour passes, preheat over to 425. Discard zucchini liquid and rinse the sticks well with cold water. Lay them out on a clean kitchen towel and dry. Pat gently to remove any excess liquid. Dip sticks one by one in the egg and then roll in the crumbs. Use the one wet hand one dry hand method and really do them one at a time. If you dump them all in the crumbs mixture it will get gloppy and you’ll have to add more. Place on a parchment lined baked sheet close together. Bake for 12 minutes and then flip them. You can use a spatula to flip, but I find it easier to just quickly do it by hand. Bake an additional 15 minutes until browning and crisp. To reheat leftovers bake for 10-15 minutes on 375.
Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Original recipe at tastykitchen.com. I followed the recipe exactly. I just subbed the cayenne for Tony’s like a true Mississippian/Louisianan would do.
- 1 sweet potato
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp Tony’s
Preheat oven to 425 (I cooked the potatoes and zucchini at the same time and same temp). Wash and peel sweet potato. Cut into 1/2 inch sticks. Toss the sweet potato sticks, olive oil, and seasonings in a bowl until coated. Arrange fries evenly on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and turn them. Bake for 15 minutes longer or until firm and crisping.
Happy April Fools Day! Fool some people with these healthy baked “fries.” They’ll never miss the oil and deep fryers.