‘Italian food is all about the ingredients, and it’s not fussy and it’s not fancy‘, so says Wolfgang Puck and this classic dish of Naples is a testimony to that. Zucchini alla Scapece is a zesty summer salad which, whenever I taste it, immediately transports me back to long lazy lunches sitting around a table heaving with brilliant seasonal produce and lovingly created dishes to share; the classic Tuscan al fresco setting we all dream of. I first tried it at Volume Library, Cafe & Bar on Piazza Santo Spirito in Florence where we sat for a couple of hours one evening, sipping cocktails all busy doing nothing and listening to the chattering hipsters as the working week slowly transformed into a long weekend of partying. It was high summer and we needed something bright and uplifting to eat following a visit to the Basilica di Santo Spirito which is easily one of the most macabre and depressing churches in all of Italy (when life gives you lemons, immediately remove yourself from the situation and eat; this is my mantra). This lovely dish is the perfect accompaniment to chunks of rosemary focaccia and thinly sliced pecorino or a bubbling hot aubergine parmigiana. Here for a lovely summertime lunch I’ve matched it with mozzarella and borlotti beans.
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
30g fresh mint, leaves picked and chopped
150 ml good quality white wine vinegar
Rapeseed oil for frying
4 medium courgettes, washed and thinly sliced
1 tsp sea salt
4 balls of buffalo mozzarella
400g can of borlotti beans, drained and rinsed (do use fresh if you can get them)
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Pinch of sumac
How I make it
To make the marinade, mix the garlic, mint, and vinegar in a bowl and set aside.
Heat a heavy based frying pan and add rapeseed oil to a depth of 4cm. Bring up to heat and fry the slices of courgette until they’re golden on both sides. Do this in batches, placing the finished courgettes slices on a plate covered with kitchen roll to absorb any residual oil.
Place the courgette slices in a shallow container, sprinkle with salt and cover with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally.
To serve, bring up to room temperature and place on a plate with the mozzarella and borlotti beans, drizzle with olive oil and scatter with fresh mint leaves and a pinch of sumac.