Zucchini with Mint (zucchine alla menta) is a summer dish from Naples. Zucchini are fried in oil, then topped with chopped garlic, fresh mint leaves and red wine vinegar. Vegan, gluten free and delicious!
The telltale signs of summer for me include lush green grass and trees, warmer temperatures, the sound of the ice cream truck, and these zucchini with mint on our table. I had to document this beloved family recipe that comes straight from Naples. Mom insisted she needed to show me how it’s done, so I headed over to my parents’ house for a kitchen lesson.
The first step was to bias cut the zucchini into planks about three inches long. I suppose they’d still taste good sliced into rounds, but tradition mandates there be a nice surface area of zucchini. Mom frowned disapprovingly at my first few attempts at cutting them, noting I wasn’t making long enough slices. So, she grabbed the knife…I mean, I asked her to demonstrate.
So that’s how it’s done. I tried my hand again, this time winning Mom’s approval. What a relief!
Next, Mom fried the zucchini planks (without eggs, just plain zucchini) in corn oil. Olive oil wouldn’t work, since it can’t withstand the high heat. Canola would be a good alternative, though.
When the zucchini were browned on both sides, Mom let the oil drip off, then arranged a layer of slices in a bowl. (A platter wouldn’t have worked, because we needed something that could hold the vinegar that would be added.) Mom sprinkled on salt and pepper. I tossed on a little finely chopped garlic, then Mom added some snipped mint leaves. We repeated the layers.
Finally, it was time to drizzle on some red wine vinegar. I insisted we document how much, so Mom grabbed a large kitchen spoon. I suggested perhaps we should use a measuring spoon, since I needed to blog the recipe. That went over really well..but hey, she did it!
We let the bowl sit at room temperature for a while to let the flavors meld. Then, we were rewarded with sturdy, yet soft zucchini that have taken on the refreshing flavor of mint with savory garlic and vinegar…yum! If you like fresh mint (hello mojitos), you need to try this! And if raw garlic bothers you, just brush it off, like I do.
P.S. Please excuse the turkey bowl being used for this vegan dish. Mom said no one would notice.
(Recipe Source: My Mom, who adapted this from Nonna’s version.)