Author Notes: In 1968, M.F.K. Fisher wrote an essay in The New Yorker called ‘The Secret Ingredient.’ I don’t know how I found it sometime in the 70’s, but I wrote out a recipe for pickled zucchini from it. Come the 80’s, living in New Hampshire close to the town that started a Zucchini Festival, it was only natural that Foodstuffs Deli (ours) would sell a version of this sweet and tangy condiment. Through the summer, people couldn’t get enough of them. Then, like many good things, both the ‘pickles’ and the Festival ran their course after several years, and the recipe was put away.
This summer we’ve been invited to more potlucks than ever before, and I’ve brought a freekeh salad and these Zucchini Pickles to every one. —susan g
Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 30 min
3 – 4
medium zucchini, about 1 1/2 – 2 pounds
enough oil to brown the zucchini
medium onion, thinly sliced
large red pepper, thinly sliced and cut in 2″ strips
teaspoon kosher salt
teaspoon coarse ground pepper
teaspoon crushed chilis (can omit)
teaspoons dried oregano
cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
cup cider vinegar
- Cut the zucchini in quarters lengthwise (trim stem and flower end), then cut crosswise to length you like. Depending on the zucchini, I get 12 to 16 pieces each. For larger zukes, cut to similar shapes.
- Heat a thin layer of oil in a large skillet (cast iron works best). Lay the zukes in the pan until brown on one cut side, then turn to brown the other side. I usually have to make 2 batches.
- Spread the sliced vegetables (onion, pepper, garlic) over the bottom of your heat resistant marinating container, well mixed.. I use a 9.5 x 6.5 inch baking dish, enameled cast iron. A glass 8 x 8″ pan, a medium souffle dish — any non-interactive container would do, glass, ceramic or such preferred.
- Mix the dry seasonings and sprinkle about 1/3 over the bottom layer. Make a layer of zucchini, using about 1/2, sprinkle with seasonings; repeat with the rest of the zucchini.
- Heat the vinegar and honey until the first sign of bubbling appears at the side of a small saucepot. Pour it over the zucchini and let it cool. I like to cover it with a dishtowel. Refrigerate.
- They are pretty good after a few hours, but just keep getting better. When I travel with them, I make them a day ahead. Refrigerate to store.
- You can set aside some of the pepper slices or cut up some more to add color to the serving dish.
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