Say "ciao" to Zucchine Alla Scapece -- an Italian recipe that seems to have always been a staple in our cooking repetoire. We're not sure when we first had it or where but it's long been a go-to summer recipe.
Zucchine Alla Scapece is a classic recipe from Italy that we eat when the days are too hot to think about cooking. Eat it as a side or pile it on top of toast with a ball of fresh mozzarella or a spoonful of ricotta for an impromptu meal.
And, if you grow your own zucchini, this dish is a saving grace because you can use all your extra in this recipe. We recommend you make a large batch then eat it over a few days because the flavors only get better as they sit.
Before we share our recipe for Zucchine Alla Scapece, let's cover the basics. Zucchine Alla Scapece is a recipe where you pan fry rounds of zucchini and then soak them in a delicious bath of olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and mint. All in all it's a healthy, whole foods recipe but you can make it even healthier by grilling or roasting the zucchini instead of frying it; however, we ask you to try it one time this way because it's seriously delicious as is. Also, this is a dish that gets better as it sits so feel free to let it sit for hours (even days!) before serving it.
This classic Italian recipe comes from Naples, but, when you travel to Italy in the summertime, you'll come across it on many menus at restaurants up and down the Italian peninsula.
The word scapece (pronounced skah-pech-ay) is believed to be related to the Spanish word escabeche meaning pickled, which makes sense seeing as the Spanish had a major presence in Naples back in the day. And, like so many things Spanish, it's believed that escabeche is a technique brough to the Spanish by the Arabs. But the combo of zucchini, vinegar, and mint? That's decidedly Italian!
When you're traveling in Italy, you'll most commonly come across this recipe served as an appetizer or a side dish. We suggest the following ways to serve it:
for frying the zucchini
sliced paper thin
or white wine vinegar
To Salt The Zucchini: Slice the zucchini into coins then place in a fine mesh sieve and toss with a large pinch of salt. Place the sieve in a bowl or the sink at set aside for 15 to 30 minutes. Pour off any excess liquid then rinse them brielfy and dry them very well with paper towels.
To Pan Fry The Zucchini: Line a large baking sheet with paper towels and set aside. Add 1-inch of olive oil to the bottom of a heavy-bottomed frying pan of large pot, add the garlic and bring to 350°F over medium-high heat. When the garlic is golden but not burned, remove it with a slotted spoon. Add the zucchini and fry it in batches until the zucchini coins are golden brown and softened, about 3 minutes. Remove the zucchini to the paper towel-lined baking sheeet and repeat.
To check the oil is at temperature, place the end of a wooden spoon into the oil. When the oil is properly heated, little bubbles will form around the handle.
To Marinate And Serve The Zucchini: Once all the zucchini is fried, place it in a shallow dish and add the fried garlic, the vinegar, a pinch of salt, a few cranks of pepper, and all the mint leaves. Arrange the zucchini so they're all coated in the mixture, cover, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day before serving.
The mint will wilt and turn black as it marinates and provides its flavor. If you don't want this to happen, add 1 sprig of mint to the marinating zucchini then discard it and add in the remaining mint leaves just before serving.
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