Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Zucchini 'in carpione', my way

September. Last summer days.
The weather has been indulgent and has provided unusually hot temperatures over the past two weeks.
No way could we keep M. at home once she was back from kindergarten school, and outdoor activities had to be planned almost every day.
As if she wanted to squeeze the last drop of summer light before the Autumn sets in.
As if she could feel it. The end of Summer.

Don't get me wrong. She loves autumn too.
Cosy, homely afternoons.
And apple tarts. And walking through the woods, harvesting chestnuts.

Still. Summer always brings precious gifts.

Open spaces.

What is it that makes it so special?

Anyway... back to the recipe... I was visiting an uncle of mine during one of those outdoor afternoons with M. and he walked us to his home garden, still as lush and colourful as in the midst of August, thanks to this particularly temperate weather: tomatoes, green peppers, salad leaves, and so forth...

"Would you like some zucchini?" - my uncle asked, proudly showing me his 'zucchini trombetta', or 'tromboncino zucchini', an italian summer squash variety. Fruits are long and slender, light green in colour, with a  fine sweet flavour. I simply love them. I couldn't say no.

Being one of my favourite vegetables I've been cooking zucchini in different ways throughout this summer: in salads, pasta, frittata (pancakes) or torte salate (tarts) or baked and stuffed with grains or cheese and vegetables. 

I've browsed magazines, books and blogs and finally I've come to this version of 'zucchini in carpione'. That's to say fry marinated zucchini. My way, since I added an extra sweet touch to this traditional sour recipe. It comes from the Piedmont region cooking tradition, and it's considered a 'piatto povero' (poor dish) since the ingredients were easily affordable to peasants: vegetables, olive oil, vinegar, fine herbs. Of course different varieties of this recipe have been developed through time, but basically it consists in frying the vegetables and then marinating them with vinegar and white wine.
Choose fresh and tender zucchini and you'll get the best results. And a good olive oil too, of course.
You can serve zucchini in carpione as a starter or a side dish. You can also treat yourself with an in-between-meal: slice some wholemeal bread, spread some goat cheese, top with zucchini in carpione, sprinkle with peppers and that's done! Enjoy!


zucchini: 900gr-2 lb
onion: 1 small - thinly sliced
garlic: 3 cloves - unpeeled
apple vinegar: 160 ml-2/3 cup
dry white wine: 250 ml-1 cup
extra virgin olive oil: 250 ml-1 cup + 5 tablespoons
dry raisins: one handful - soaked in water for 10 min.
sage: 2 bunches
almond flakes: 1 tablespoon
salt: 1 teaspoon or less, according to taste

Clean the zucchini and cut them lengthwise, then slice them into 4 to 5 cm pieces (1 to 2 inches).
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the zucchini and fry them until slightly brown and crispy. Drain the slices and blot them with paper towels, sprinkle with salt. Arrange the zucchini in a glass baking dish.
At this point you can choose to follow the traditional indications or go healthier.
In the first case: sauté onions, garlic and sage in the same oil, then add the white wine and the apple vinegar and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Pour this hot mixture over the fried zucchini, let it cool down. Add raisins and almonds then refrigerate for at least 6 hours (the longer, the better).
In the second case: heat 5 tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil in a pan over medium heat, sauté onions, garlic and sage, then add white wine and apple vinegar and let simmer for about 10 minutes, as above. From this point follow the same instructions.

The second method is highly reccomended - for your health at least - but it must be said that traditional recipes provides a simply delicious treat!

Shelf life: keep in the fridge for 7-10 days

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