I had heard that the Southern Italians sun-dried their zucchini, and then either put them up in jars covered in olive oil, or sauteed them as a side dish. I never did find a recipe, so this one is entirely mine. I think it works pretty well, and will be making this all summer long — it’s a textural thing: The dried zucchini concentrate what flavor they have, and with less water, become meatier — if I had to serve a vegan, this would be on the menu. Use a dehydrator if you are in a moist climate, but here in Sacramento I just strung these on skewers and let them dry in our blazing hot garage for 36 hours.
tablespoons olive oil
teaspoon cayenne or espellette pepper
tablespoons fresh chopped mint
Juice of half a lemon
Slice zucchini into disks
Sprinkle salt on a large cookie sheet or two, then lay the zucchini on them. Sprinkle more salt on top. Leave at room temperature for no more than an hour — the longer you go, the saltier the zucchini will be. If you plan on preserving these in jars, go the full hour. Pat dry with a towel and skewer. Hang the zucchini in a hot dry place for 24-48 hours, depending on the temperature. You want them to be dry, but not hard. Think soft dried apricots… Once dried like this, they can be stored in jars, covered in olive oil, for months in the fridge. When ready to cook, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add the zucchini rounds and toss to coat with oil. Turn the heat down to medium-high and cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes. In the final minute, add the cayenne and toss to combine, then do the same with the mint. Turn off the heat. Squeeze the lemon juice on the zucchini when you are ready to serve.