The famous zucchini alla scapece are one of the most famous side dishes of Neapolitan cuisine, a dish loved by everyone, and which is always a pleasure to prepare and bring to the table.
The original recipe of zucchini alla scapece is pretty simple, but, just like all the traditional preparations, it needs some little shrewdness.
In order to prepare a perfect dish, all the steps must be done well and with attention. In fact, it is precisely these little touches that will make our dish a true Neapolitan delight.
The origins of this dish are very ancient, the very first sources date this preparation back to the end of the reign of Tiberius.
The most concrete hypothesis, however, places them in the period of the domination of Naples by the Bourbons.
The term “scapece” derives from the Spanish word “escabeche” which indicates all the dishes that after cooking are marinated in vinegar, such as our zucchini.
In order to make zucchini “alla scapece” according to the original Neapolitan recipe, it is necessary to start with very good zucchini, the ones indicated by tradition for this recipe, are the firm and striped Neapolitan zucchini, perfect for frying and that can stand high temperatures well.
Before frying them, they should be allowed to “dry out” a bit, so that they can dry out and be ready to be plunged into boiling oil. Zucchini can be sliced on a linen cloth and left under the hot sun for a few hours.
Alternatively they can be put on a dish towel, sprinkled with a little salt and left to rest for at least an hour.
Traditionally, the oil used for frying zucchini is not extra virgin olive oil, as this oil holds up better to frying, but if we do not have it at home or do not use it regularly, we can use extra virgin olive oil.
It is preferable to use an oil aged for at least some months in order not to have a too pungent and strong taste.
- 35 oz of zucchini
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 lt. of olive oil for frying
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- fresh mint to taste
- salt to taste
Wash the zucchini, pinch off the ends and cut them into rounds about half an inch thick.
Place the zucchini on a dish towel and sprinkle with salt, then let rest for about an hour.
The zucchini are ready to cook when they appear a little wilted.
On summer days you can let the zucchini dry in the sun for about an hour to an hour and a half.
In the meantime prepare the marinade, in a bowl put the white vinegar and chopped mint leaves, cover with a plate and keep aside.
Cut the garlic into thin slices and, if you do not digest it well, remove the inner core as well.
Put the olive oil in a frying pan and let it heat up, as soon as it starts to sizzle immerse some zucchini and cook over medium heat until golden brown on both sides.
Drain zucchini with a slotted spoon and place in a dish covered with paper towels.
Proceed in this manner and cook all zucchini.
Take a bowl or deep serving dish and place a layer of zucchini on the bottom.
Add a few slices of garlic and 3 – 4 tablespoons of marinade.
Proceed in this manner alternating garlic and marinade until all ingredients are used up.
If you want, you can add a few tablespoons of the frying oil to the marinade, an ancient custom that leaves purists a bit perplexed, but which is part of the authenticity of this dish.