Every summer, the inevitable question arises: “What shall I do with all this zucchini?”
Besides the usual zucchini bread, ratatouille and deep-fried fritters, I’ll often start stufato di verdure or summer minestrone with a base of sautéed aromatic vegetables (onion, celery, carrot) and zucchini. Occasionally I’ll use it in a tian, or cooked with garlic and slivered almonds in olive oil and vegetable stock and puréed as a sort of a light green gazpacho.
If you’re not averse to anchovies, they’re wonderful with anchovy and capers. One fillet is all you need to allow that lovely umami flavor to permeate your taste buds. Insalata di zucchine e pomodoro (zucchini and tomato salad) is another idea, and best eaten when the vegetables are at the peak of their flavor.
Then, there’s today’s offering. A friend of mine says that this is the Italian version of escabeche, except it’s meatless and vegan. It’s also one of those Italian vegetable dishes that takes almost no time at all to prepare, which makes it an automatic favorite.
Zucchini alla Scapece (“Zucchini fried in olive oil, and marinated with garlic, mint and vinegar”)
Typically the zucchini is sliced into thin rounds. I’ve elected instead to slice them lengthwise as you see here. You can do this by hand, or with a mandoline.
3 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1/3 cup olive oil
a pinch of sea salt, plus more to taste
a pinch of freshly milled black pepper, plus more to taste
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped mint
Warm all but 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini slices to the pan, along with a small pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Turn the zucchini occasionally and let cook until they become golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer the zucchini with kitchen tongs to a paper towel-lined plate. Transfer the oil to a container and wipe the pan down.
In the same pan, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. When the garlic turns a pale gold, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.
Once the zucchini have cooled sufficiently, place a 2-3 slices in the bottom of a large bowl. Sprinkle a little fried garlic on top, a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and some chopped mint leaves. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and black pepper. Add another layer of zucchini slices, then repeat by seasoning with the garlic, vinegar, mint, sea salt and black pepper. Repeat as needed until all your zucchini is used up. You should have roughly 3 or 4 layers.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the zucchini marinate for 1-2 hours at room temperature before serving.
Time: About 3 hours, including prep and marinating time.
This recipe is sized for two people.