Mary Beth Clark

Culinary Educator · Consultant · Author

Fried Zucchini with Pine Nuts, Chili, Mint, and Basil

Zucchini Fritti con Pinoli, Peperoncino, Menta, e Basilico

With gardens and markets overflowing with summer's vegetables, here is an Italian zucchini recipe that is sure to please. Make fried zucchini without batter or flour. Frying zucchini, especially when it is young and fresh, needs no coating. Simply fry until its edges are barely crisp, and drain. Then briefly saute with garlic, pine nuts, chili pepper, and toss with fresh mint and basil leaves. In Italy, we love this with pasta. It also tastes great served as a side dish, or as a bed for grilled fish, meat, or poultry, or tossed with your favorite grain making a light, satisfying salad.

4 servings. Cooking time is 10 to 12 minutes.

Frying the Zucchini:
2 pounds (910 g) summer squash (any kind of zucchini) (8 cups or 1.90 liters volume when sliced)
Sunflower, safflower, grapeseed oil or other mild oil for frying

Sauteing the Zucchini:
2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil and/or sunflower oil
Whole garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces or 70 g) pine nuts
– add fried zucchini slices –
Salt to taste
Pinches of ground cayenne red pepper to taste
Water or vegetable broth as needed, very small amount
Fresh mint leaves
Fresh basil leaves

1. Frying the Zucchini: Trim off the ends of the zucchini, cut into thin slices. Divide into 3 batches for easier frying. Place absorbent paper towels on top of cooling racks to drain the fried zucchini. In a deep pot, heat the oil to 375 F/191 C/Gas Mark 5. Slide in the first batch of zucchini slices, and gently move them around separating the slices. Within seconds, their edges darken and crisp so watch carefully, then scoop them out, separate on the absorbent paper, drain, and cool. Repeat with remaining zucchini.

2. Sauteing the Zucchini: Over medium heat, warm the oil in a broad pan. Add the crushed garlic cloves and pine nuts. Heat until fragrant, gently stirring to prevent burning. Increase the heat to high, add the fried zucchini, and season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes. (Only if needed to prevent burning, pour in a few spoonsful of water or broth.) Add the fresh herbs, stir, then turn off the heat. Remove the crushed garlic cloves and save another use. Serve this Italian zucchini recipe in any style pleasing to you.



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