Wherever the sun is powerful, it has been used to dry local produce. Sundried zucchini are commonly found in the markets in southern Italy, and this sweet-sour marinade, agrodolce, comes from even farther south, in Sicily. The flesh of the zucchini becomes dense and meaty when dried and, after frying, the slices perfectly soak up the aromatic, piquant, lively marinade. Served with slices of sopressata and a fresh orb of burrata, this dish is a delicious addition to an antipasto course. If you can use the sun to dry the zucchini where you live, do so; for the rest of us, the oven in your kitchen will do the trick.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 6firm medium zucchini, trimmed
- Kosher salt
- Good-quality olive oil
- Handful of fresh mint leaves
- 1cup cider vinegar
- ⅓cup granulated sugar
- 2pinches homemade or good store-bought chile flakes
- 2garlic cloves, slivered
Step 1Prepare the zucchini: Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Slice the zucchini into 1/8-inch-thick rounds, long ribbons or both. Lay out in a single layer on two wire racks set inside two sheet pans.
Step 2Salt the zucchini lightly and evenly, and let sit for about 20 minutes to draw out the water. Blot dry with paper towels, then leave in the oven until the slices become a little leathery, dry and sort of papery. It’ll take a little over an hour.
Step 3Make the agrodolce: In a small, nonreactive stainless-steel saucepan, simmer the vinegar with the sugar over medium heat until syrupy, about 10 minutes. Add the chile flakes and turn off the heat. Stir in garlic slivers.
Step 4Meanwhile, finish the zucchini: Heat about 1 inch of olive oil in a wide sauté pan over medium-high until it shimmers. Test with a chopstick to see if it's ready to sizzle. Fry the leathery zucchini in batches until golden brown, 20 to 30 seconds. Move quickly — they fry quickly. Drain on the racks.
Step 5Arrange the warm, fried zucchini in a heatproof dish and generously scatter mint leaves on top, then spoon the still piping hot agrodolce all over the mint and zucchini. You will smell the mint leaves bloom under the heat of the agrodolce, like tea leaves in hot water. Let rest for about 15 minutes before serving, to allow the flavors to meld and permeate.