What’s cooking today: Breaded courgettes in your air fryer
Courgettes, fresh from the garden, were dipped in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and fried in the air fryer in a matter of minutes. It makes for a delicious, crunchy snack.
Let’s get something out of the way first about breadcrumbs. Every now and then, in the world of cooking, new supposed “rules” are set randomly and take hold in the popular consciousness. One of these, for some years now, has been the “rule” that you must use Panko breadcrumbs, on pain of death or having the Food Police come around and give you a good talking-to (which is much the same thing), because all other breadcrumbs are considered inferior.
This is nonsense. It is true that Panko breadcrumbs are of great quality, and I do use them when I can find them (I live in a small town where none of the shops stocks them). But there are many other kinds of breadcrumbs which do the job perfectly well.
You can make them from something as simple as day-old bread (day-old or, yes, two days old, because they’re dryer and make finer crumbs). You can even buy cornflake crumbs, and they have lovely crunch and flavour. My local SuperSpar provides excellent breadcrumbs from their bakery; you just ask at the counter. They’re fine and really crunchy.
Think about it: you have a few slices of tired bread somewhere in the fridge. You’re still going to go out and buy breadcrumbs when it’s right there? With prices being as high as they are? It’s one of the few ways we have left of saving a bit of money.
A tiny tip: crumble leftover bread with your fingers. Put the bits on a tray in a warm place. Leave them until the next day. Then blitz them in the blender.
But of course, you can use Panko. Just please don’t buy into the annoying and pretentious culture of it being the only choice worth making. Mr and Mrs Panko have made a lot of money out of that.
My crop of courgettes is in full flow now, so I picked some from the garden and sent them directly to the kitchen for this new air fryer recipe, with orders to line up on the kitchen table.
(Makes a handsome plateful)
8 to 10 courgettes, cut into batons
1 cup flour
150 g fine breadcrumbs
50 g grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
Top and tail the courgettes and cut them into batons (see picture). Depending on their size, one might make four or more batons.
Put the flour in one container, season with salt and black pepper, and stir/shake so that the seasoning is distributed.
Plop two eggs into a second container and whisk.
Put the breadcrumbs in a third container and season lightly with salt and black pepper. Add the grated Parmesan to this, as well as the oregano and paprika, and stir to distribute evenly.
Using one hand, dip the courgettes slices first in the flour, shaking off excess, then in the egg, allowing excess egg to drip off.
Using the other hand, roll them in the breadcrumbs. Put them on a plate when each is done.
Heat the air fryer at 200℃ for 5 minutes.
Spray the basket with olive oil spray.
Lay out the courgettes, with space in between for hot air flow.
Air fry in batches for 5 minutes, turn the courgettes, and air fry for another 5 minutes.
If you run out of either flour, egg or breadcrumbs before they’re all done, just add more, season as above, and continue.
If they are cool when being served, quickly reheat them at 200℃ for 2 minutes. DM
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer 2023, jointly with TGIFood columnist Anna Trapido.
Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.
This dish is photographed on a platter by Mervyn Gers Ceramics.