Crispy Zucchini Grilled Cheese with Dijon Horseradish Aioli.

I stand firm on my conviction that one grilled cheese is never enough.

One plain grilled cheese, made with regular bread (whatever the heck that may be) and a side of pickles always leaves me wanting more. Like more in the sense of an entire second grilled cheese. Or at least three fourths of one. I’ve pimped out this belief on the facebook, the twitter and the instagram for years now with pictures of my drippy, crunchy sandwiches. It’s just making it’s way here.

Sidebar: how grossed out are you right now that I not only dip my grilled cheese in ketchup, but also in residual pickle juice?

It’s fine. Go ahead. Judge me.

But.

This is an example of how I make one grilled cheese be enough for my high maintenance appetite.

Stuff it full of things. All the things.

My parents have been legitimately obsessed with ordering fried zucchini since, like… the 90s. Maybe even earlier. No matter where we end up, it’s always an appetizer. Sometimes it’s completely delicious. Sometimes it’s disgusting and tastes like every other thing that’s been in the deep fryer since last Friday. It just depends. I’m over it.

The thing is that even though my family has funded zucchini farmers everywhere (that’s not even a little bit true, I know), my earliest memories of “fried” zucchini came from my mom making it in the summer with the garden-fresh green stuff. She never truly deep fried things, but instead just added a few tablespoons of oil to her cast iron skillet (which is maybe 60 years old now?) and cooked it until crispy. It was incredible… because my mom? She is quite heavy handed on the parmesan.

Now you know where I get it.

I really wanted to call this fried zucchini grilled cheese but I thought you might throw something at me. Fried stuff inside a grilled cheese? Whaaaaaaaat. How are we even friends.

But but but – you can BAKE the crispy zucchini (on a wire rack, just like how I did the chicken yesterday) and use whole wheat bread and well, there you have it folks: HEALTH FOOD.  

Whatever is easier – bake this or fry it in a little olive oil – just eat it. I’m still flipping out over all things aioli too, so… ugh.

What a freaking delicious nightmare.


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Crispy Zucchini Grilled Cheese with Dijon Horseradish Aioli

Yield: makes 2 sandwiches

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

4 slices whole grain bread
1 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 large egg + 1 large egg white
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup seasoned fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces freshly grated cheddar cheese
softened butter for spreading

aioli
1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
a pinch of salt + pepper

Directions:

Prep the aioli first (recipe below).

In a bowl, whisk together the egg and egg white. In another bowl, whisk together the panko, breadcrumbs, flour, parmesan, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Dip each zucchini slice in the egg mixture to coat, then dredge through the breadcrumbs, pressing gently to adhere. Place in the skillet and cook until golden - about 2 minutes per side. When finished, remove the slices with kitchen tongs and let drain on a paper towel.

Spread one side of each bread slice with softened butter. Heat a skillet (I used the same one, just wiped out) over medium heat and place bread buttered-side down, then top with a spoonful of aioli, a handful of grated cheese, a few zucchini slices, more cheese, more aioli, and the second slice of bread, this time buttered-side up. Cook until cheese is melted and both sides are golden brown - at least 5 minutes per side. Lower the heat if the bread gets too brown. Serve immediately and dip any extra zucchini slices in the leftover aioli!

aioli
Whisk together dijon mustard, egg yolk and lemon juice in a large bowl until combined. Slowly stream in olive oil while continuously whisking until the mixture emulsifies and comes together completely. Whisk in whole grain mustard and horseradish, then taste and season with a little salt and pepper as desired. Set aside.

[aioli slightly adapted martha]

This work is worth it. Swear.