- zucchini, 6 or 8 or … (as many as you want – use more mint and garlic, olive oil and vinegar if making this dish with more zucchini), small-to-medium-
- sized but NOT large (too much pulp inside and less flavor)
- red or white wine vinegar, q.b = quanto basta or “as much as is needed”
- extra-virgin (ONLY!) olive oil, q. b.
- sunflower seed oil (or other seed oil), q. b.
- bunch of fresh mint
- garlic cloves, 4 or 5
- salt, q.b.
Pino’s wise and wonderful mother, Signora Vincenza, taught me much about Sicilian lifestyles and Sicilian cooking. She is no longer with us – but her culinary secrets live on! One of the first recipes she taught me to make was one with zucchini (one summer while visiting us when our zucchini crop was surplus!). Vinegar is often used in Sicilian cooking as years ago, people could not afford refrigeration. Cooking with vinegar helped preserve the food. When my husband Pino was small, there was no refrigerator in their home. Even in the intense heat of Sicilian summers, these zucchini need not be refrigerated.
- Rinse zucchini and then slice. Slice longitudinally if zucchini are quite small; slice rounds if zucchini is larger. (Objective: you will be frying all the slices and therefore want to be turning as few slices as possible)
- Put all zucchini slices in a deep bowl and cover with salt – a cup or more. Let sit for about half an hour. (Zucchini will soften as water is leaked and are therefore prepared for frying.)
- Rinse 2 or 3 times. Drain. Spread on cloth.
- Heat one part olive oil and one part sunflower seed oil* in a stainless steel frying pan. Oil should be deep for better frying. Begin to fry only when oil “spits.”
- Zucchini should be brown and crispy on both sides. As you remove one zucchini from the pan, add another. (Leave no “open” spaces in the pan or oil will smoke and burn.)
- Finely-chop garlic cloves and generous bunch of mint.
- When all zucchini are fried, add olive oil and wine vinegar, then garlic and mint. Mix lightly. Add salt as needed.
- If making large quantities, the zucchini can be stored in the fridge in a jar for a couple weeks, if you add a bit of olive oil and vinegar. Zucchini should not be “exposed” to the air, i.e., top level should be covered with olive oil.
- Serve cold as antipasto. Buon appetito!
*Adding sunflower seed oil to olive oil reduces the smoking point.