Garlic-Marinated Zucchini (Concia)


 By Leah Koenig 

Photograph by Valerie Trucchia

This dish hails from Rome’s ancient Jewish community, which dates back 2,000 years. The recipe makes delicious use of summer’s zucchini abundance and highlights a hallmark technique of Roman Jewish cooking: frying vegetables in oil. Although the zucchini is fried before it is marinated in a mix of chopped basil, parsley, garlic, and a glug of red wine vinegar, the final dish is complex and bright, rather than stodgy or heavy. I first tried concia at a restaurant in Rome’s historic Jewish ghetto neighborhood over a decade ago, and haven’t ever forgotten the experience. 

Recipe adapted slightly from Modern Jewish Cooking by Leah Koenig,
©2015, Chronicle Books. 

Serves 4 

Illustration by Valerie Trucchia
  • 2  pound s zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch thick planks 
  • Kosher salt 
  • 2  tablespoons  finely chopped fresh basil 
  • 1/4  cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • 3  cloves  garlic, finely chopped 
  • 1/3  cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1/4  cup red wine vinegar 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 

Place the zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon salt, and toss with your hands to coat. Let stand for 30 minutes, then rinse well and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Stir together the basil, parsley, and garlic in a small bowl and set aside. 

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan set over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the zucchini, turning once, until softened and lightly browned on both sides, about 6 minutes total. Transfer half of the zucchini to a shallow ceramic, glass, or Pyrex (not metal) baking dish, and top with half of the herb mixture and half of the vinegar. Taste and season lightly with salt to taste (zucchini should already be salty), and pepper. Repeat with the remaining zucchini, herbs, and vinegar. 

Let stand at room temperature, basting occasionally with the juices in the baking dish, for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours, before serving. Serve at room temperature. Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator.