Cast Iron

Zucchini Festival Pickles, Sweet and Tangy

July 25, 2013
1 Ratings
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves many
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

What You'll Need
  • 3 - 4 medium zucchini, about 1 1/2 - 2 pounds
  • enough oil to brown the zucchini
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large red pepper, thinly sliced and cut in 2" strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed chilis (can omit)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. You can set aside some of the pepper slices or cut up some more to add color to the serving dish.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • susan g
    susan g
  • Shortrib

3 Reviews

susan G. September 1, 2015
Can't correct until later. Meanwhile, just layer the zucchini over the base, pour the hot vinegar-honey over it, and you're done.
susan G. September 1, 2015
Shortrib, thank you - you're right!
Correcting now...
Shortrib August 31, 2015
I think your recipe is missing a step between #4 and #5? The layering instructions don't mention the zucchini and seem incomplete. 0therwise this sounds appealing.