I am always on the look out for new and different side dishes. Even though a side dish is the supporting act in a meal and never the star of the show, a really good side can turn an ordinary or plain main into something very special. I guess that’s why side dishes in steak restaurants are so crucial. This zucchini (or courgette) dish is a lovely recipe that hails from southern Spain where the technique of frying an ingredient then marinading it is quite common. It’s also popular in Italy where zucchini are cut quite thick and left out in the sun to dry before being fried which intensifies its flavour. The addition of mint makes this wonderfully refreshing and the garlic is really essential to bring out the flavour of the zucchini. This pairs beautifully with roast chicken and game as well as lamb or fish.
Ingredients – Serves 4 Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller
500gm zucchini, cut diagonally into 2.5cm-thick lengths
60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
2 garlic cloves, 1 cut into 4 slices; 1 finely chopped
1 dried red chilli, crushed or a large pinch of crushed chilli flakes
2 tablespoons thinly sliced mint
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Line an oven tray with paper towels. Place zucchini on tray and stand to drain for a minimum of 30 minutes ut the longer you can leave them out the better they will be. Pat dry with paper towel.
Place oil and garlic slices in a large frying pan over medium heat and gently fry until golden brown. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and discard. Increase heat to medium-high. Add zucchini in batches and fry until browned on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, then place on a serving plate. Scatter with finely chopped garlic, sea salt, chilli and mint, season to taste, drizzle with vinegar and serve at room temperature. If serving the next day, cover the plate with plastic wrap and store in a cool place, but not the refrigerator.