Fried zucchini salad is comfort food in salad form.
There’s a pizzeria in my hometown that serves what they call a fried salad. It’s made of lettuce mixed with fried zucchini, eggplants and fried cheese, tomatoes, corn and a dressing similar to tartar sauce. It’s very good and super indulgent. The last time I had it was years ago, when I still lived there.
I rarely eat fried food, which is why I don’t feel bad on those occasions when I do. When I crave that fried salad, I make my own version at home. Sometimes I make it with vegetables and mozzarella sticks, on other days I prefer to make it with fried zucchini. While the pizzeria’s salad has a few different fried components altogether, I prefer to include only one at a time (either fried cheese or zucchini, but never both at the same time).
Since it’s still zucchini season I opted for fried zucchini this time. Because I absolutely adore them! Obviously once you fry something it tends to taste good anyway, but zucchini I think are especially good. Speaking of fried food, has anyone ever tried fried candy bars? That seems crazy enough that it might be good or it could be really bad.
Whenever I’m making anything breaded I use leftover eggs, breadcrumbs and flour and make what I call Grandma’s breadcrumb fries. It’s something my Oma has always done and she showed it to my mom who in turn taught me. They’re crunchy on the outside and have a bread-like texture, with strong egg flavor. I shamelessly admit that I love them.
This fried zucchini salad is very simple, once you’re done with the frying part which is more time-consuming. I use a mixture of greens – måche, arugula and oakleaf lettuce. Top that with buffalo mozzarella, a side of chopped roasted peppers and fried zucchini. And then drizzle over homemade tartar sauce and toss in some capers.
I think it’s a nice mixture between indulgent ingredients and vegetables, a balance between crunchy zucchini and soft, milky mozzarella with just enough extras to make this a wholesome tasty meal.Print
Fried zucchini salad + tartar sauce
Recipe makes two delicious salads, but enough fried zucchini to serve more people.
- 180g (2/3 cup) sour cream
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 teaspoons mayonnaise
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- small pinch of salt
- 2 medium pickles, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons pickle liquid from the jar
- 2 medium zucchinis, sliced into 0.5cm (1/5 inch) thick slices
- 260g (about 2 cups or 9 oz) all-purpose flour
- 6 medium eggs
- 260g (about 2 cups or 9 oz) breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- few grinds of black pepper
- sunflower oil for frying (no more than 720ml or 3 cups)
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 extra egg (optional)
- 100g (3.5 oz) mixed lettuce greens (arugula, måche and oakleaf salad)
- 2 roasted peppers, sliced (from a jar or homemade)
- 2 buffalo mozzarellas
- a tablespoon of capers or more to taste
- In a small bowl combine sour cream, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, garlic powder, salt, chopped pickles and pickle liquid.
- Mix well, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you are ready to use.
- First prepare your work area. Make a line of three deep plates or shallow bowls; place flour in the first, eggs in the second and breadcrumbs in the third. Place a fourth plate at the end of the line for breaded zucchini.
- Whisk the eggs and season them with a teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Start breading the zucchini: Dredge zucchini slices in flour, shake off the excess; dip into eggs and lastly into breadcrumbs.
- The edges of the zucchini slices are thicker and you can dip them a second time to make a thick coat. Simply roll them in eggs and then in breadcrumbs.
- Place all on a plate.
- Mix leftover breadcrumbs with leftover whisked eggs, if the mixture is too dry add another egg and a pinch of salt.
- Stir in the parsley.
- Add leftover flour tablespoon by tablespoon until you get a thick doughy mixture, that is not sticky, but holds together nicely.
- Take a small scoop of the dough and form it into a small log.
- Continue with the rest of the mixture and place on a plate.
- Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set it aside close to your stove.
- Place oil in a deep medium cast iron skillet, about an inch (2.5 cm) high. Warm it over medium-high heat. When the oil gets hot, fry one breaded zucchini first, to see if the oil is really hot enough (*more in notes).
- Then continue with the rest of zucchini, frying 5 or more at a time. Turn them after about 1 minute. They’re done when the crust is golden brown, usually takes a few minutes. Place all zucchini on the baking sheet where the paper towels will soak in extra oil.
- Lastly, fry the breadcrumb dumplings, until they are brown in color, and place them on paper towels as well.
Assemble the salad
- Place a handful of lettuce on each plate. Add some fried zucchini, one buffalo mozzarella torn in half and a few slices of roasted peppers. Top the mozzarella with capers and spread a tablespoon of tartar sauce over the greens.
- Serve immediately, along with extra tartar sauce, breadcrumb fries and fried zucchini.
ON TARTAR SAUCE
I like pickles in my tartar sauce as they add flavor and just enough sourness. You can substitute them with lemon juice.
If the tartar sauce is too thick for your liking, add either more pickle liquid, lemon juice or simply water.
Instead of salt, you can also add chopped capers.
Tartar sauce keeps for a few days, covered tightly with plastic wrap and stored in the fridge.
Because this is strong enough, I don’t add any other dressing to my salad.
I prefer sunflower oil over everything when I have to fry anything in a pan or skillet (this includes eggs and crepes). You can substitute it with canola oil and many swear by peanut oil. The choice is ultimately yours.
I don’t use a thermometer, although that could be handy. I always watch my oil when I’m heating it and throw in a test zucchini. The oil has to swish and immediately bubble all around it. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the zucchini (or whatever you are frying) will just swim in there, soaking up all the oil and you’ll stand by the stove waiting for it to make that swishy sound. That is why risking one zucchini slice is worth it. You want them to be crispy not soggy and oily.
Laying out the fried zucchini on paper towels is essential. Those soak up all the extra oil. Most of the time you’ll have to change the oily paper towels for fresh ones as you keep on adding new fried zucchini on the baking sheet.
Fried zucchini and breadcrumbs fries keep for a day or two, stored in the fridge.