You can do a lot of amazing things with zucchini. You can bread it and bake it for the faux-fry treatment. And then dip in ranch. Because the answer is always ranch (when it’s not margarita).
You can caramelize it in some bacon grease [swoon] and toss it into a peppery, velvety smooth carbonara for what is quite possibly the best pasta dish you’ll make all summer.
But my all-time favorite for the last few years? Grilling it with red onions and topping with a simple, insanely versatile, you-have-all-these-ingredients-already vinaigrette.
I make the grilled zucchini twice a week and eat it most nights as our veggie side. And most days, I pile the leftovers onto a chunk of baguette with a smear of mayo and a dizzle of vinaigrette, pop it under the broiler with some cheese, and call it lunch.
It’s my favorite summer lunch. My favorite summer sandwich.
And it’s pretty close to the best thing that could ever happen to zucchini.
Grilled Zucchini & Red Onion Sandwich
Summery sandwich made with grilled zucchini and red onions, topped with a lemon basil vinaigrette.
That basket of delicious, deep-fried napalm is made of three of my very favorite things: beer, deep-fried [fill-in-the-blank], and to fill in the blank – fresh, weapons-grade jalapenos.
The first time I had fried jalapenos was at a post-Big Brother Sweatshop after-work-meeting after-party. Because it wasn’t enough that you had to spend 9 hours inside that soul-sucking prison, then the Medium Brothers expected you to meet after work, and then to socialize after that. For free.
But they frequently paid in decent munchies and not-so-decent beer. The Fried Jalapenos served alongside a dipping bowl of ranch dressing (because this is Texas) was my favorite thing about my time served there.
The fried jalapenos back then were of the pickled, canned nacho variety – not the greatest thing to ever happen to a jalapeno. I prefer fresh jalapenos for the tender-crisp texture, the absence of that vinegary aftertaste, and the fact that they’re easily accessible (and usually abundant) in my backyard.
We fried the fresh jalapeno slices up in my friend Laura’s beer batter and then served them up alongside some Chipotle Ranch for dipping. And a glass of milk. Because sweet baby Firestarter Jesus, those things were HOT.
Beer Battered Jalapenos
Fresh jalapeno slices are coated in a dark beer batter, deep fried, and served alongside cool and spicy Chipotle Ranch dressing.
For the batter:
1 cup flour
1 cup dark beer
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 dozen large jalapenos, cut in 1/3-inch slices
For the dipping sauce
1 cup ranch dressing
2 Tbsp minced chipotles in adobe
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and then add the beer.
Mix well and then set aside for 30 minutes.
Line a plate with paper towels.
Pour enough oil to come up 1.5 inches in a small pot and heat over medium-high heat.
Working with 8-12 slices at a time, dip the slices in the batter and then drop into the hot oil.
Fry 3-4 minutes, until golden brown, flipping the slices halfway through.
Remove with a slotted spatula and let drain on the paper towels.
Stir the ranch and chipotles together and serve alongside the fried jalapenos for dipping.
The other two people in this house are not so… passionate about grilled pineapple. There have been eyerolls and little remarks and sighs.
Nor are they passionate about taking the contents of 5 leftover bowls from the fridge and making… that.
But those other two people in this house didn’t complain one bit about dinner last night.
The Internet’s favorite queso serves as the cheesy nacho base, which I then topped with leftover chicken tossed with barbecue sauce, grilled pineapple, thinly sliced red onion, weapons-grade-hot chopped jalapeno (but only on half – Thank, God!) and cilantro.
OF COURSE THEY DIDN’T COMPLAIN.
BBQ Chicken & Grilled Pineapple Nachos
Cheesy nachos topped with barbecue chicken, grilled pineapple, and red onion.
“You’re going to get me kicked off the internet for this.”
Not the first time I’ve said those words to Jason… probably won’t be the last, either.
But he has a point. There is no such thing as too much queso. Nor is there any shortage of things to do with the leftovers. Especially if you have no shame and even less regard for cholesterol levels. Hi, I’m Shawnda
On Cinco Eve, when you’re trying to decide whether you should double or triple your favorite queso recipe between sips of margarita (of course) – go with the little tequila bottle whispering in your ear.
Because if your friends disappoint you and don’t lick the bowl clean, you have options.
There’s Eggs Benedict. And not that you really need anymore options after that because [swoon]…
And then there’s scooping the leftovers over a pan of oven-baked fries (because frying anything destined to be covered in cheese is kind of irresponsible). And then top it with a mound of pico de gallo (vegetables!) and avocado (avocado!) and a few squeezes of lime juice (expensive!).
Loaded Queso Fries
The ultimate Cinco de Mayo hangover cure: baked french fries topped with leftover queso, pico de gallo, and avocado.