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Serves 4

Transform a garden of zucchini into a delicious dish resembling French fries, but without all the calories. The secret involves cutting your zucchini into frylike sticks, then cooking them in a way that delivers that signature crunch, but without the deep-frying.

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

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2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and ground black pepper

1 large egg, beaten lightly with 1 tablespoon water

¾ pound zucchini, peeled and cut into 16 equal sticks

¼ cup light mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon minced garlic

½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika

1. Heat the oven to 450 F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive-oil cooking spray.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the panko, stirring frequently, until toasted, about three minutes. Transfer to a shallow bowl and stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the oil.

3. In another shallow bowl, combine the flour with the garlic powder, then season it with salt and pepper. In a third shallow bowl place the egg mixture.

4. Working with several zucchini sticks at a time, toss them in the flour, shaking off the excess. Add the flour-coated zucchini to the egg mixture and toss to coat well, letting the excess egg drip off. Finally, place them in the panko mixture, tossing to make sure they are coated well on all sides. Arrange the fully coated zucchini sticks in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

5. Bake, turning once, until golden and tender, about eight minutes.

6. While the zucchini is baking, in a small bowl stir together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic and paprika. Season with and salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cooked zucchini lightly with salt and pepper, then transfer to a platter and serve immediately with the sauce.

— Sara Moulton, The Associated Press

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