This zesty dish is a summer time favorite in Naples. Served cold the day after it's been made, it makes a wonderful side dish or antipasto. It can be a meal in itself topping some crostini or toasted bread. Don't be shy to make a big batch of it -- conserved in vinegar and kept in the fridge, it will keep for about a week.
Depending on your tastes, some prefer to use a mixture of half vinegar, half water -- or even white wine, boiled to remove the alcohol -- before pouring, while still hot, over the vegetables.
For a mild, nutty garlic flavor, place the garlic cloves in the oil to infuse as it's warming up. Garlic lovers might enjoy simply slicing and placing the raw slices among the zucchini to marinate. Not a fan of garlic? Leave it out. A must, however, is the mint; it gives the whole dish, along with the vinegar, a wonderfully refreshing lift. —Emiko
Thinly slice the zucchini in rounds or lengthways and lay them in a baking dish or similar container, sprinkling salt over each layer. Set aside for roughly two hours, then rinse the salt off and pat dry with paper towels.
Fill a wide and deep skillet with olive oil, about 1 to 2 centimeters (3/4 inch) deep. Add the garlic if you're using it to infuse the oil, and turn the heat to medium. Remove the garlic once golden. Over medium heat, fry the zucchini slices in batches until they are golden and tender. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
Place the zucchini in a container (preferably with a lid, for keeping in the fridge) and pour the vinegar over it, then add the mint leaves and (if using) the sliced garlic. Combine well and cover. Keep in the fridge for at least a few hours before eating – it's even better left to sit overnight. This dish keeps well, covered and stored in the fridge, for about a week.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.