Oh my . . . how long has it been! So long that I almost feel as intimidated as I was when I wrote my first post. In fact, one of the reason why I haven’t been writing is because I did not know how to come back. I kept thinking: “Am I supposed to explain my absence or just pretend I never left ? “. I felt like a child cheating in school, trying to find a good excuse to explain why I had not completed my homework. I have been debating about the right story or topic to return to my blogging, but nothing felt adequate.
Last month, on my FaceBook page, I posted a photo of a dish I had prepared for dinner, ” zucchini alla scapece“. The kind comments that I received and my subsequent promise to post my recipe gave me the push I needed to come back. I finally realized that I didn’t need to justify my absence and certainly I did not need a big ‘scoop’ to make a come back. So here I am!
The heat wave of last month reminded me a lot of my summer days in Italy, especially when I was a child. The house would get very warm in the afternoon, my mom would open all the windows to facilitate air circulation which really didn’t help much. Despite the heat, my beautiful mother, wearing her sleeveless dress, her hair gathered into a fancy chignon, and tiny sweat beads trickling down her forehead, would spend many afternoon ” ai fornelli” ( by the stove). While thinking of her and those hot days, the one dish that came to mind were the “zucchini alla scapece“, I could almost smell the oil frying.
I am keeping my promise and here it is is my mother’s recipe of ‘Zucchini alla scapece’, which is simply fried zucchini, marinated in wine vinegar.
The ‘zucchini alla scapece’ are usually served as ‘antipasto’ (appetizer), however, they are also delicious layered on top of some fresh mozzarella in a sandwich made with focaccia or ciabatta bread. In my family we also like to eat them as side dish.
I must admit that my mother’s original recipe includes an additional step which I have omitted. My mother used to slice the zucchini into rounds, not to thick and not too thin, but just right. She would laid the slices on a large tray covered with a kitchen towel and then she set the tray on a chair on the balcony in the sunshine. The slices of zucchini would dry in the sun and a slight curly edge would form. As a child I really didn’t know why she would do that; Only many years later – when I started to show some interest in cooking – I realized that drying the zucchini prior to frying would prevent them from absorbing too much oil; it would also make them slightly crispy.
My decision to make the zucchini alla scapece came suddenly and in the early evening. I had not time to dry the zucchini in the sunshine, however, I lined a tray with paper towels and I arranged the sliced zucchini on top. I also sprinkled them with salt to facilitate the releasing of water. I let the zucchini rest for 30 minutes then patted dry with a kitchen towel.
I hope the result would have satisfied my mom. It sure satisfied my husband!
Zucchini alla scapece
Cosa serve (What you need):
6 small zucchini sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
A small bunch of fresh mint leaves minced plus few whole leaves to garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil for frying
Cosa fare (What to do):
- The first step is the prep of the zucchini as explained above. Prior to slicing the zucchini, remember to rinse them thoroughly under clod running water, rubbing with your hands to remove any grit.
- Heat 1/3 cup of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. The oil should be enough to come 1/4 inch up the pan’s sides.
- When the oil is quite hot, fry the zucchini in one layer, without crowing the pan. The oil should be hot enough to sizzle in contact with the zucchini.
- Watch the zucchini and turn them over when they become golden on one side. When they are golden brown on both sides, with a slotted spoon transfer them into a serving bowl.
- Drizzle with the vinegar, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, finally add the minced leaves of mint. Gently toss and set aside to cool down at room temperature.
- Before serving garnish with few leaves of mint.
Today, it’s a rainy and gloomy day here in Frederick, I hope this dish will brighten your day.
Which dish reminds you of the summer hot days of your childhood?