-A.J. Compton, The Counting-Downers
Recently, I have read so many bloggers talking about how summer is going by entirely too fast. I could not agree more. I have SO many items on my summer bucket list yet to cross off. But, time here in rural North Carolina seems to fly by faster than in in Florida. I swear I will look down at the clock on my computer and 3 hours will have passed by, in what seems like the blink of an eye. I find myself thinking, “I just fed Dolce breakfast… when did it become past lunchtime?!”
I read somewhere that time flies by exponentially faster when you are happy. I’m not sure if this NC succubus time warp is due to how extremely happy I am here, or if it is because I’ve started to completely immerse myself in the Carolina Country way of life. I have slowed down. I have literally allowed myself to stop and smell the roses.
I will be working in my office and find myself gazing through the windows, out to the abyss of towering trees in our back yard. It is so peaceful I will almost lose myself in the tranquility. A moment later, I will spot a couple deer or a family of baby foxes who have decided to grace our small portion of the woods with their presence. I won’t even run for my camera to capture the moment. I will just sit back and take it all in. These moments of serenity are surreal, breath taking and humbling. I still can’t believe I live here.
However, needless to say, this countrified version of Cheyanne is not very conducive for this blog. I have been trying extremely hard to reign in my focus and get at least SOME of the items on my summer bucket list, pertaining to the blog, crossed off.
It started with my Chicken Lettuce Wraps utilizing strawberries, and I am continuing today with zucchini… because, I can hardly even believe I have gone through THIS much of summer without ONE zucchini recipe! Well, times they are a changing. Enter these – Baked Zucchini Fries with Roasted Garlic White Pizza Hummus.
The idea for this pairing came from originally craving a pita pizza smothered with hummus and topped fresh summer produce. But, my craving quickly switched to wanting French fries, and then a classic NY style white pizza (we actually DO have a good place near us for Pizza – who would have thunk it out here in the boonies!). Pretty much, I was having a total “chick” moment and could not make up my mind for the life of me. So, instead I decided to find a way to mash ALL of my cravings (No I’m not pregars), into one. And, I have to say, this mash up is pretty damn delicious and healthy! #Winning
The zucchini fries are seasoned with parmesan and Italian flavors, then baked to crispy, crunchy perfection. They are easy, seasonally fresh, light, and definitely addicting! But, fries were only part of my smorgasbord craving. I still needed the pizza component. And, since you can’t have fries without something to dip them in, I decided to take my favorite pizza – White Pizza with Roasted Garlic – and create a dip.
I could have easily just made my marinara sauce and blitzed in some roasted garlic and ricotta or mozzarella, but even the calm of the Carolina’s can’t stop the culinary storm of ideas that is constantly forming in my mind. Instead, I decided to jazz up the hummus I was also still craving.
This hummus is magically delicious. It is ultra-creamy, seriously dreamy, cheesy, garlicy, and light, yet decadent. It actually tasted like my favorite white pizza married my beloved hummus and had a tasty baby (<– Is that weird to say??). With ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, a touch of tomato paste and cloves of roasted, fabulously flavorful garlic, this hummus is the type of dips dreams are made of. Because, give me ALL the pizza flavors minus the carby bloat, plus the protein! #DipDreams
Paired together, the baked zucchini fries and roasted garlic white pizza hummus are a match made in heaven. I was definitely doing the “dip, baby dip”… without putting my hand upon anyone’s hip. (Tell me you know that old school song. No? Google – Freak Nasty). Anyways, cross my heart you guys are going to love this revamp of chips and dip, or veggie sticks and dip, or breadsticks and sauce, or fries and sauce? Whatever you want to compare it to… this stuff rocks the house. Scroll down, hit print and enjoy! Until next time, Cheers and happy dipping – skinny style.
- Hummus: (yield- roughly 2 Cups)
- 1 Head of Garlic
- Sea Salt, to taste
- 1 (15 oz) Can Cannellini Beans – drained and rinsed, but liquid from can reserved (can substitute Chickpeas)
- 3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil- plus more for drizzling garlic
- 6-7 medium Fresh Basil leaves – roughly chopped (about 2 TBS), plus more for garnish
- ½ Cup Mozzarella Cheese, packed and heaping - freshly shredded
- ¼ Cup Parmesan- freshly grated, plus more for topping
- ¼ Cup Ricotta Cheese*
- 2 tsp Tahini
- 2 tsp Tomato Paste
- ½ tsp Onion Powder
- ¼ tsp Dried Oregano
- ¼ tsp Dried Parsley
- ¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- ¾ scant tsp Kosher Salt
- ¼ tsp Pepper, to taste
- Zucchini Fries: (yields – roughly 70 fries)
- 2 large Zucchini (or 3 large) - cut in half, lengthwise, and then into sticks
- ½ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- ½ Cup Regular Bread Crumbs
- 3 TBS Parmesan Cheese – freshly grated
- 1 tsp Italian Seasoning, divided
- ¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
- ¾ Cup All Purpose Flour
- 2 Large Eggs – beaten
- For the Hummus: Roast the Garlic: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the top ⅓rd off of the head of garlic (so the tops of the cloves are exposed). Place on a small sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Wrap garlic tightly in the foil. Place the garlic package directly on the center oven rack and roast for 40-50 minutes, or until garlic is golden brown and soft. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Carefully remove garlic from foil and squeeze the cloves out of the skins. Transfer 5 large garlic cloves to the bowl of a food processor.*
- Pulse the garlic in the food processor until roughly chopped, about 5 pulses.
- Add in all the remaining ingredients, except the olive oil and reserved bean liquid. Process until combined and almost smooth in consistency, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
- With the food processor running, slowly add in the olive oil (though the opening at the top of the processor), and process until smooth. Slowly add in the reserved bean liquid, 1-2 tablespoons at time. Process until desired consistency and thinness is achieved. (I used about ¾ths of the reserved liquid)
- Taste and adjust for seasoning. Set aside.
- For the Zucchini Fries: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a wire rack insert with nonstick cooking spray and place on a large baking sheet. Set aside.
- Prepare the zucchini: quarter the zucchini lengthwise and then cut each quarter in half lengthwise to create “fries”. Set aside.
- Set up your breading station: In a shallow bowl combine the flour with ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning and season generously with salt and pepper. In a separate shallow bowl add the eggs and whisk well. In a third shallow mixing bowl combine both bread crumbs, parmesan, the remaining ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper flakes. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Bread the zucchini: Working in batches, dredge the zucchini in the flour, shaking off excess. Then dip into the eggs, allowing excess to drip off. Finally place into the panko, pressing to coat.
- Transfer the zucchini onto the prepared wire rack insert. Repeat process until all zucchini are breaded.
- Spray the tops of the zucchini with baking spray. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.
- Garnish with chopped basil leaves and serve immediately with Hummus. Enjoy.
*Keep the rest of the roasted cloves of garlic in an airtight container in the fridge and reserve for another use.