Curbing the Courgette – La Concia di Zucchine

This is a great recipe for those of us who like to rely on make-ahead meals on occasion – you know, cook the day before so that it’s ready the day after. Indeed, since this is a traditional Roman Jewish dish, it was probably designed specifically for this reason, to avoid having to cook on the Sabbath. The Italian word ‘conciare’ itself means to treat a substance so that it will keep better and longer (i.e. to preserve, to pickle or to tan a hide), and there is even a cheese called Conciato Romano.  Thus I can only presume that ‘conciare’, when it comes to food, is basically about technique.  The technique in question calls for frying the food first and then adding vinegar to preserve it.  In the days before refrigeration, salt and vinegar were vital for making food last longer.
The ingredients are: courgettes/zucchine, olive oil, garlic, vinegar, salt and fresh mint leaves and/or parsely.

After washing and trimming the courgette, cut it into fairly thick rounds.  I have seen on other recipe blogs that the courgette can also  be cut in lengths or diagonally even.  You choose.  Some recipes call for salting the courgette for about an hour, so as to remove excess liquid.  I didn’t bother but I did pat the courgettes dry.

I insist that olive oil be used for shallow-frying this dish just as I insist that olive oil be used for frying aubergines/eggplants in order to make a parmigiana di melanzane.  It makes all the difference, really it does. Also, make sure the level of the oil is at least 4 cm level deep and don’t be surprised to see the courgettes soaking a lot of it up !

1It is better to fry the courgettes in batches on a medium high heat.  Fry until they turn goldeny-brown.2Drain the fried courgettes in a colander and then pat dry with kitchen paper.

5Place the courgettes in a deep serving dish or even in a glass jar.

Now add some garlic … I like the cloves to be cut in half, so that they will, yes, do their job and season the vegetables but will also be large enough to be spotted and set aside if people would rather not ruin their palate with an onslaught of raw garlic.

6

5aOnce all the courgettes have been cooked and drained, it’s time to give them the vinegar treatment.  Use white wine vinegar … and don’t just drizzle it lightly over the courgettes, give them a good glug.  Be generous when sprinkling the salt too..

6b7 (2)8Time to add raw olive oil now.  And no ifs or buts, ONLY olive oil.  Taste and check whether more vinegar or more salt is needed.

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Use a spoon to mix everything together.8aNow, as a final touch, add some mint leaves.  Or parsely.  Or both.9The thing to do now is cover the serving dish and set it aside for 24 hours.
11Serve the concia the nex day as a vegetable side dish, or as a starter with a selection of cheeses.  Make sure the is plenty of bread to mop everything up.

You might be interested to read another post I wrote on a very similar way to cook courgettes, with a technique called ‘scapece’ in Italian : https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/the-mystery-dish-scapece-sun-tanned-courgettes/

 

5 thoughts on “Curbing the Courgette – La Concia di Zucchine

  1. Indeed, as I read this, I thought: This is a scapece! Other than the additional olive oil, not sure I see the difference… But whatever you call it, it’s divine.

    Btw, couldn’t agree more re: frying in olive oil. I’ve read in places that frying in olive oil is a waste of money because the taste is blunted by high temps. That just doesn’t jive with my experience. Perhaps true for very hot deep frying, but not for shallow frying at moderate temperatures.

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    1. Ciao Frank! thanks so much for chiming in. I wrote a piece on scapece too a few years ago … and quoted it in today’s piece, did you see it by any chance? What is interesting to me is the ‘background’ to the technique .. I did quite a bit of research but you know what it’s like … one person says one thing, and the other the opposite kind of thing. The permeating influence of Mooris and Jewish cooking in the Mediterranean is definitely a fascinating subject. I had a version of scapece for the first time chez an aunt of a friend of ours who is from near Frosinone. The aunt lived in a small town called Castro dei Volsci. This would have been mid 1990s. And I thought it was divine. Still do !

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      1. Very interesting indeed! I have heard that the word scapece, was related to the Spanish escabeche, but I didn’t know the origin of the Spanish word or the possible connection with Apicius– which I agree sounds pretty dubious. Anyway, like you, I love learning about the history and origins of dishes. It’s such a fascinating subject that you can never stop learning about . “Ci vuole una vita”, as they say in Italian !

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  2. Have made Frank’s “scapece”…now I simply must give this a try Jo! Just put up a post about my abundance of zucchini in the garden…so next harvest…this will be it! Re using EVO to fry in…agree with you two…350 F or so….I even save the oil from frying in the fridge for the next go around with eggplant or zucchini…add a bit of fresh oil…works for me…hope you don’t think I’m nuts or cheap…but heck…I do check the taste before reusing though just to make sure!

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