Courgettes Scapece is a traditional Neapolitan dish made by frying sliced courgettes and seasoning them with white wine vinegar, garlic, and chopped mint leaves. It’s a flavourful and healthy side dish or antipasto that’s perfect for summer meals.
About this Recipe
By: Silvana Lanzetta
Have you ever tasted the deliciousness of Courgettes Scapece? It’s a popular side dish in Neapolitan cuisine that dates back to ancient times. Making it is super easy – all you need to do is slice some courgettes, fry them up, and then season them with vinegar, garlic, and fresh mint leaves.
My mum used to make this dish so often that the flavours of garlic, mint, and vinegar are now a part of my DNA!
much She actually used to make lots of vegetables “alla scapece” too – green beans, aubergines, roasted bell peppers, and cauliflowers – all seasoned and marinated in the same delicious way. It’s such a great way to bring out the natural flavours of the vegetables and make them even more enjoyable.
However, courgettes are particularly amazing in this dish. They have such a mild flavour that really gets enhanced by the seasoning and marinating process. It’s a great way to take an otherwise ordinary vegetable and turn it into something special.
But have you ever wondered where the name “scapece” comes from? According to some, the recipe was created by Marco Gavio Apicio, a famous Roman chef who wrote the first-ever book on recipes called “De re coquinaria”. The term “scapece” is believed to be a contraction of the Latin phrase “ex Apicius”, which means “by Apicius”.
Although we don’t known about Apicio’s life, we do know that he was passionate about gastronomy and loved experimenting with food. He lived during the reign of Emperor Tiberius and apparently he committed suicide shortly before the end of his reign.
Others believe that the recipe has Spanish roots. The word “scapece” is derived from the Spanish term “escabeche”, which refers to food that has been marinated in vinegar.
No matter its origin, Courgettes Scapece is a flavourful and healthy dish that’s worth a try. You can serve it as a side dish or an appetiser, and it pairs well with meat and fish dishes.
The Courgettes Scapece recipe is a tasty and healthy option, as it is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and relatively low in calories. However, since the dish is high in fat due to the use of olive oil, it should be consumed in moderation, particularly if you are watching your fat intake.
- Proteins 2% 2%
- Carbs 13% 13%
- Fats 85% 85%
Let me share a little secret to making the perfect Courgettes Scapece. The key is to use the freshest courgettes you can find! For best results, make sure to buy your courgettes on the same day you plan to make the dish. The fresher and plumper the courgette, the better your dish will taste – trust me on this.
Now, if you really want to take it up a notch, my suggestion is to head over to a farmer’s market and get the freshest courgettes you can find. Or even better, if you live close to a farm that offers “pick your own veggies”, go for it! There’s something so satisfying about handpicking your own vegetables and knowing exactly where they came from.
Whatever you do, don’t skimp on freshness – it’s the key to making a truly delicious Courgettes Scapece.
In my family, we always used red wine vinegar for that strong and tangy flavour that really makes the dish pop. But my friend Fiorella swears by white wine vinegar, which has a milder flavour that’s perfect if you’re not into sharp tastes.
If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can even try using Modena Balsamic vinegar, which adds a sweetness and intense flavour that’s simply irresistible. Although you won’t typically find this vinegar in Naples as it’s made in northern Italy, it’s still a great alternative to experiment with.
Personally, I like to use either red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar when I run out of red. But whichever kind of vinegar you use, just make sure it’s a wine vinegar because it adds a unique and special flavour to the dish that you won’t want to miss out on.
Always use fresh mint – never the dried stuff. Trust me, the fresh mint adds a refreshing taste to the dish that perfectly complements the tangy flavours of vinegar and garlic.
Dried mint loses all its essential oils during the drying process, which means your dish will lose all the flavourful depths that make it so delicious. So, don’t skimp on the fresh mint – it’s a crucial ingredient that really takes the dish to the next level.
When you’re making Courgettes Scapece, it’s important not to go too crazy with the garlic. After all, you want to savour all the delicious flavours in the dish, not just a mouthful of garlic, right? I’d say two cloves of garlic are the perfect amount to get that amazing taste without overpowering the other ingredients.
For the best results, fry your courgettes using a vegetable oil that has a high fuming point, such as sunflower oil, and avoid using olive oil since it’s unsuitable for frying due to its low fuming point. However, when it comes to seasoning your courgettes, go for olive oil – particularly extra virgin olive oil. It not only enhances the flavour, but it’s also loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, making it one of the healthiest fats out there.
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 portions 1x
- Diet: Vegan
- 4 medium courgettes, sliced thinly
- 60 ml red wine vinegar
- 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp salt
- A small bunch of fresh mint leaves, chopped
- Sprinkle the courgette slices with salt and let them rest for about 30 minutes. Then, rinse them well and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- In a large bowl, mix together the white wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and chopped mint leaves.
- In a large skillet, heat up enough olive oil to shallow-fry the courgette slices. Once the oil is hot, add the courgettes and fry them until they are golden brown and crispy.
- Transfer the fried courgettes to a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil. Let them cool for a few minutes.
- Once the courgettes have cooled down, place them in the bowl with the marinade. Toss everything together.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. The longer the courgettes sit in the marinade, the better they will taste.
- Serve the courgettes scapece cold as a side dish or antipasto. Enjoy!
For frying the courgettes, use a vegetable oil with a high fuming point, like sunflower oil. This will ensure that your courgettes come out crispy and delicious. Avoid using olive oil, as it has a low fuming point that makes it unsuitable for frying.
Two cloves of garlic are the perfect amount to add flavour without overpowering the dish.
Be sure to use fresh mint for the best results.
Try using different kinds of vinegar to see which one you like best. Red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, and Modena Balsamic vinegar are all great options.
After frying, let the courgettes marinate in the vinegar mixture for at least 2 hours, or even better, overnight, for maximum flavour.
Courgettes Scapece is best served at room temperature, so make sure to let it sit out for a bit before serving.
Take your Courgettes Scapece to the next level by using it as a topping for bruschetta. Dice a mozzarella and stir it in with the courgettes before adding it to your bruschetta for an absolute delight!
The vinegar and mint marinade used in Courgettes Scapece works well with other vegetables too, like aubergines, bell peppers, cauliflowers, or green beans.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Rest Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Vegetables
- Method: pan fried
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: courgettes, zucchini, vinegar, mint, olive oil, weekday dinner, easy recipe, neapolitan food