Zucchini is one of the few things my dad was actually able to grow in the garden in our backyard when I was a kid. I think he managed to salvage a few tomatoes from the ravenous squirrels and rabbits as well, but as I've mentioned before, I've never been a fan of actual tomatoes, despite a paradoxical affinity for all tomato derivatives. Similarly, since raw zucchini is kinda nasty, he'd pan-fry a homegrown specimen or two from time to time, and it always surprised me how good it tasted. Now that Sonia and I have our own big backyard, we'll undoubtedly have our own garden here too, appropriately, in the Garden State. (Au revoir, Media, PA, TJ's. Hello Marlton, NJ, TJ's!) Can't wait to (attempt to) grow our own zucchini and fry them like my old man used to.
These zucchini fries from TJ's are good too, but there are a few key differences from those home-fried zucs I remember all those years ago. First, there's a noticeable coating of batter on these fries. It's apparently made of cornmeal and wheat flour. It's good. It's a nice touch. There's not too much and not too little. Secondly, the pieces of zucchini are completely inconsistent. Some of them are small, some of them are big, and some of them are really just globs of empty batter. And thirdly, due to the inconsistent sizes, it's really hard to cook the entire bag to perfection all at once. The little pieces cook faster and wind up a little charred. The big pieces wind up undercooked and a bit juicy on the inside. It's not a terrible thing, especially if you're one of those "variety is the spice of life" types. You get some crispy critters, similar to the texture of traditional fries, and you get some moist, squishy fries—which have a lot more real zucchini flavor.
Another oddity about these fellows was the absence of a sauce. The bag mentioned something about "serving them with your favorite sauce." Hmmm... I don't think they mean chocolate sauce. Can we have a hint, Trader Joe? Ketchup? Because I don't think that would work either. Fortunately for you readers, I looked up the product on TJ's own site, and they did throw us a bone and suggest sriracha or tzaziki as dipping options there. We actually had tzaziki and sriracha on hand when we ate these. I certainly wish I had known to try it with them at the time. I think that might have sealed the deal and put these puppies in the Pantheon had they included their own sriracha and/or tzaziki. But they're still really darn good as they are.
Having never tried fried zucchini before, Sonia was pretty enthusiastic about this dish. She gave it 4 stars. I'm going to go with 3.5. Let this blog post serve as a petition to TJ's to include a sauce in ver. 2.0.
Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.