Marinated summer squash is one of my favorite light dishes on a hot day. Charring or grilling the zucchini and dressing it with acid while warm really makes the flavor pop- adding sweet raisins, sharp red onion and crunchy toasted nuts balance it all out. I prefer using capers for an additional salty/briny element but you could substitute any kind of finely chopped pickle you may have in your pantry instead. The zucchini can sit for a couple hours before putting the dish together which makes prep even easier. Garlic scapes are fun here but not necessary- they could also be swapped out for sautéed corn off the cob to make a slightly more substantial offering.
Serves: 2-3 as a appetizer
For the Zucchini:
1 each large zucchini
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pinch kosher salt
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 pinch red chili flake
For the Onion & Raisin Garnish:
½ ea red onion, peeled, sliced thin
3 tablespoons golden raisins
2 pinch kosher salt
As needed rice wine vinegar, to cover
For the Charred Garlic Scapes: (Optional!!!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ea garlic scapes, trimmed on top and bottom
1 pinch kosher salt
For Finishing the Dish:
1 tablespoon capers, soaked, drained
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toatsted
1 sprig dill, picked
6 ea mint leaves
For drizzling EVOO
To taste black pepper, fresh cracked
Method + Assembly
- Slice the zucchini into ¼ inch rounds, on a slight bias.
- Heat a large saute pan over high flame and fry the zucchini slices in olive oil (you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan) until deep golden brown around the edges, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the slices to a shallow baking dish in a single layer as you go. Season the charred zucchini with vinegar, lemon juice and chili flake while warm.
- Check seasoning and adjust if needed. Set aside while preparing the rest of the dish, leaving at room temperature and stirring every once in a while.
Onion & Raisin Method:
- In a mixing bowl combine the onion, raisins and salt.
- Add enough vinegar to the cover. Mix well and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.
- (the excess vinegar left at the end of the recipe can be saved and used again or in other recipes)
Garlic Scape Method: (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high flame- add the scapes and a pinch of salt.
- Allow to sear for about 2 minutes per side, until nicely charred, be careful as they might pop a little during this process.
- Remove the scapes from the pan and add them to the zucchini, using a little of the vinegar dressing to coat the scapes as well.
Putting It All Together:
- Choose a platter you enjoy, this will be a family style appetizer.
- Arrange the zucchini on the plater, kind of laying the slices onto each other.
- Scatter slices of red onion and raisins all over the zucchini, then do the same with capers and pine nuts. Add the garlic scapes.
- Tear up the herbs with your fingers and place all over the dish.
- Use a spoon to drizzle a bit of the onion vinegar all over the plate.
- Finish the dish with a healthy drizzle of olive oil and fresh cracked pepper.
- Serve immediately.
George Sabatino is a Philadelphia chef who is dedicating his career to developing vegetable focused dishes, with special attention to sourcing locally and treating all ingredients (and their journeys from farm to table) with respect and purpose.