Sicilian Sun-Dried Zucchini
Southern Italians sun-dry their zucchini, and then either put them up in jars covered in olive oil, or saute them as a side dish. I never did find an Italian recipe, so this one is entirely mine. I think it works pretty well, and make it all summer long. Why? It’s a textural thing: The dried zucchini concentrate what flavor they have, and with less water, become meatier — if I had to serve a vegan dinner in summer, this would be on the menu. Use a dehydrator if you are in a moist climate, but here in Sacramento I just strung these on skewers and let them dry in our blazing hot garage for 36 hours.
Servings: 6 people
- 4 zucchini, about 3 pounds
- Skewers if you are not using a dehydrator
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, sliced very thin (optional)
- Juice of half a lemon
Slice zucchini into disks about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle salt on a large cookie sheet or two, then lay the zucchini on them. Sprinkle more salt on top. Leave at room temperature for 30 minutes if you are going to eat them in the next couple days, or for up to an hour if you plan on preserving these in jars.
Pat dry with a towel and either dehydrate at 120°F or skewer. Dehydrate until pliable but leathery, about 3 hours or so in my dehydrator. Or, hang the zucchini in a hot dry place for 24 to 48 hours, depending on the temperature. In either case, you want them to be dry, but not hard. Think soft dried apricots…
When ready to cook, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add the zucchini rounds and garlic (if using) and toss to coat with oil. Turn the heat down to medium and cook until browned, about 3 minutes.
In the final minute, add the cayenne and toss to combine, then do the same with the mint. Turn off the heat. Squeeze the lemon juice on the zucchini when you are ready to serve.