My mother-in-law’s vegetable garden in the Adirondacks was the talk of the town every summer—a colorful sanctuary bursting with corn, tomatoes, Blue Hubbard squash and, of course, zucchini. Each August, she would prepare zucchini every way you could imagine: stuffed with rice, shredded for breads and muffins, and diced and cooked into a tomato sauce for pasta.
My MIL would give us a portion of her harvest each year, and I got super creative in the kitchen. For the most part, my kids were game because grandma’s zucchini was crunchy and more mildly flavored than some of the other green vegetables I tried to get them to eat.
As a side dish, these oven-baked zucchini chips go with just about any main course, including pasta and marinara sauce, baked chicken fingers, ravioli, grilled turkey burgers, and more. They’re also good as a pre-dinner snack—one you won’t mind your kids filling up on—because we’re still talking about a vegetable. And a green one at that!
What Kids Learn
- Zucchini is a type of squash.
- Summer squash has thinner, softer skin than longer-lasting winter squash.
- Darker zucchini has the most nutrients; small and medium zucchini have more flavor.
What You’ll Need
- 4 small zucchini
- ½ cup dry breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Olive oil cooking spray
What to Do
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Slice the zucchini into ¼-inch rounds, and discard the ends of the zucchini. Measure about 2½ cups of zucchini slices.Teachable Moment: 4 Zucchini Facts
- Zucchini are a type of squash, which technically makes them a fruit. Like other squash plants, such as pumpkins, they produce flowers.
- Zucchini are almost entirely water—up to 95 percent—and full of vitamin C and potassium, so they’re really good for you.
- Small and medium zucchini tend to be more flavorful than larger ones, and darker ones have the most nutrients.
- Zucchini can grow to be huge. The current world record for the largest zucchini is 65 pounds!
- Let your helper measure and place in a large shallow bowl or pie plate the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Next, she can stir this mixture and make sure the ingredients are well blended.Teachable Moment: Zucchini vs. Squash: What’s the Difference?
- While zucchini is a type of squash, it still differs from its cousins—yellow squash, crookneck squash and pattypan squash—in many ways.
- All the squash are called summer squash. They have thinner, softer skin than certain types of longer-lasting winter squash, such as butternut squash and acorn squash.
- One interesting difference between the zucchini and other summer squash is that zucchini evolved from a type of squash first introduced to Italy from the Americas, and then, go figure, brought back to the U.S. in the 1920s.
- Both zucchini and yellow squash taste similar enough that they can be used interchangeably in recipes. For a burst of color, try mixing both in your next zucchini-based dish.
- Coat the zucchini slices with olive oil cooking spray. Your helper can then roll the zucchini in the breading mixture. She can arrange the zucchini chips on the prepared baking sheets, in a single layer. Bake the zucchini chips for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a spatula to flip over the chips, and then let them brown evenly. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until the chips are crisp. Transfer to a platter and let cool just slightly. Serve warm.