Dry Frying – Make Veggies Meatier

 New Technique Is A Game Changer

Developing a new cooking method gets me pumped. There was a eureka! moment when I prepped and cooked summer squash with this new idea. Traditionally, squash, eggplant, and portobello mushrooms are fried to become limp, moist side dishes.

Dry frying produces a more dense texture: filets of mushrooms, eggplant, summer squash, even carrots will act more like an entree meaty dish. This happens when you create grooves on the surface of the veggie, and then fry with no or very little oil. This allows the moisture to quick-release and wicks away out of the grooves, yielding a firmer texture when they finish cooking. Salt is not added until cooking is complete. Dry frying will also sear the little squares between the cuts to add color and flavor.

Veggies are fried on a non-stick griddle, then brushed with oil or marinade just before plating

Here’s how: slice summer squash or eggplant into 1/4-inch thick slabs.

Next, slice 1/8-inch deep grooves at a 45º angle about a 1/2-inch apart down each slab and repeat at 90º angle to create a cross hatching. Repeat on the other side. Although this seems tedious, it is a technique that is easy to master.

After the veggies are caramelized it’s time to season in place! Now add salt and pepper and a brush of oil or a basting marinade. I also like to sprinkle a spice blend from anywhere in the world,  followed by a brush or spray of oil. Or use a teriyaki glaze.

Try dry frying eggplant, carrots, sweet potatoes, portobello mushrooms, and summer squash. For portobellos mushrooms cross-hatch the top and then just the lip of the under side to allow steam to escape.

Dry frying each side for about 2 minutes, then flip and repeat. Continue a few more times until al denté. Then salt and also consider using a spice blend, or brush on a glaze. Brush on a little oil and plate.

Additional serving ideas: top with pesto or grated cheese.

There are endless ways to combine veggies, spices, marinades from most anywhere in the world.

Try dry frying! It will elevate veggies to another level. Move over meat!

WEGMANS BASTING OIL: This is a simple way chefs romance vegetables without heavy saucing. This recipe is based on this renowned American supermarket and its prized oil. I keep it on hand for this very dry frying moment.

Wegmans Basting Oil

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, grated or pressed
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, finely minced

Combine and keep in airtight container.

Brush basting oil onto the veggies just before removing from pan.


– recipe by B. Hettig


Portobello steak with refried baked potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts

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