Zucchine alla Scapece
I had this dish for the first time at a party that my friend Valentina from Bari threw at her apartment in Rome 9 years ago. She gave me the recipe and I have been making these zucchini for parties ever since. Their place is in a bowl on the table next to my bad-ass eggplant. Of course making the two together works well because you know what to do with the extra mint.
I love the deep flavor of the sautéed zucchini, with a hint of garlic, the tanginess of the balsamic vinegar and the sweet freshness of the mint together. These could be great on a sandwich with good bread and a mild cheese like mozzarella or scamorza, or simply on their own as a side dish. I’ve never tried to put these zucchini over pasta, and since it is generally served at room temperature it could be a good summer pasta salad, tossed with feta cheese or any other crumbly cheese.
The nice thing about making food to be served at room temperature is that you can make it ahead of time. Italians don’t refrigerate as much as Americans do, eggs in the grocery store are never found in the refrigerator section, but on shelves next to cans of tomato sauce and sugar. I have gotten out of the habit of putting everything in the refrigerator, I leave frittatas out, something I would have never done before, then again, the thought of eating eggs at room temperature made me sick before moving here, but it is rare that an Italian will serve you a frittata hot off of the stove. If you are going to make this dish ahead of time I would seal them and leave them out on the counter. The fridge tends to change the flavor of your food. I’m becoming too Italian, I don’t even walk around barefoot anymore.
Zucchine alla Scapece
- 4 large zucchini sliced into round medallions
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- handful of fresh mint
- salt to taste
Wash and thinly slice zucchini into round medallions. Heat oil in a wide saucepan over medium-high heat and add the whole cloves of garlic. When garlic starts to sizzle add slices of zucchini. Sauté zucchini over high heat for about five minutes or until they start to brown, lower heat to a medium flame. You need to make sure to turn the zucchini frequently so that it doesn’t burn.
When zucchini is perfectly browned and cooked through add balsamic vinegar and sauté until the vinegar has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from pan and into a bowl, toss with fresh mint and serve at room temperature.