Fried foods are an indulgence we enjoy occasionally. Make them at home to have a better tasting, healthy(er) indulgence! Serve up quick fried vegetables with homemade ranch for a seriously delicious appetizer or side dish!
Yesterday afternoon my boys and I walked out to our garden, bowl in hand, to pick vegetables to use in our lunch. They helped me to spot the zucchinis laying on the ground under large, flat leaves. They pointed out the okra plants and the small okras shooting up from the stalks. And together we pulled dozens of red tomatoes and tossed them in our bowl.
After we had picked all the ripe vegetables, we walked around the perimeter of the garden and picked wildflowers to put in a vase in the kitchen. Some of the flowers were pulled up roots and all, and some were pulled off so short that not much stem remained, but in the end we had a colorful bunch of flowers right from our yard.
We came back inside and the boys showed off their pickings to their dad. They were proud and excited. About vegetables.
Don’t get me wrong. They are not always as excited about the vegetables when they show up on their plates, but it struck me yesterday what an impact our small garden plot can have on our kids’ understanding of food. We are eating a lot of zucchinis (even in muffins), they see the piles of green beans brought in and then served for dinner, and they watch from the window as the tomatoes turn from green to red.
Even a small garden, albeit overrun with weeds, can be an opportunity to discuss seasonal eating, gratitude for food, and resourcefulness for using what is available.
Our vegetables picking yesterday became toppings for pizzas and a side of fried okra.
Garden Pizza :: simple thin crust pizza dough + EVOO mixed with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano + just enough mozzarella to cover the oil + THIN slices of onion, zucchini, and tomato + parmesan cheese ::
We don’t eat fried food too often. Obviously, it’s not the healthiest food you can cook. But I do like to make it occasionally. I would rather us indulge at home when I know exactly what ingredients are used, and when I can pair it with homemade ranch and perhaps a couple healthier dishes to round out the meal.
It’s also just a nice tasty treat. One thing I want my kids to leave my house knowing is that food is meant to be both enjoyable and useful for our bodies. Treats have their place in our diets, just like sautéed greens and cookies.
Everything in moderation and food not feared but taken with gratitude and pleasure.
Okra is a new one for me, but this batter works well for the crunchy little slices of okra too.
In addition to the recipe for a simple fried veggie batter, you can find a recipe for homemade ranch below.
We LOVE this ranch. We all love eating it as a dip or drizzling it on our salads (or if you’re my daughter, just eating it with a spoon). And I love that it’s incredibly easy to make and uses just a handful of ingredients I can make at home.
P.S. I get non-GMO canola oil at Whole Foods. The oil can also be strained and reused 2 or 3 times.
P.P.S. Don’t forget, the fresher the spices, the better the flavor.
P.P.P.S. We have an absolute “no kids in the kitchen” rule if I’m ever frying anything. Getting popped with hot oil is no fun, especially when your head is right at stovetop level.
P.P.P.P.S. (how many can you add before it becomes excessive?) I use my enameled cast iron dutch oven for larger batches of fried vegetables and my cast iron skillet for smaller batches. You could also use a regular pot or saucepan.
- Canola Oil
- 1 C flour
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1. Mix together the batter ingredients in a mixing bowl with a fork. Add 1 1/4 C water and stir with the fork until blended. Add additional water, a tablespoon at a time, until the batter is the consistency of Greek yogurt. (You want it thin enough to drizzle off a spoon and thick enough to coat the vegetables).
2. Heat oil in a dutch oven or a heavy bottomed skillet to 375°.
3. Dip the vegetables in the batter, and carefully add to the hot oil. Work in batches so that the vegetables are not overcrowded in the pan. Cook the vegetables for about 30 seconds per side, until the batter is golden brown.
4. Remove the fried vegetables to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and cool.
5. Serve with ranch or other dipping sauce (optional).
Best Ever Homemade RanchPrint
This ranch is the BEST EVER homemade ranch and can be made quickly and easily with kitchen staples!
- 1 C Greek (or homemade) yogurt
- 2/3 C mayonaise
- 1/3 C whey or buttermilk
- 2 Tbsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1. Combine all ingredients except the whey or buttermilk in a bowl and stir until well blended. Add whey or buttermilk as needed until you reach the desired consistency.
2. Store in a jar and keep in the refrigerator.