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 !
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.
Once 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..
Use a spoon to mix everything together.Now, as a final touch, add some mint leaves. Or parsely. Or both.The thing to do now is cover the serving dish and set it aside for 24 hours.
Serve 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/