Italian Pickled Vegetables (Verdure in Scapece)
“Vedure in Scapece” is a summer dish from Naples found in Italian delis all over America. It’s the go-to recipe in Italy for people who have loads of zucchini, eggplant, peppers and other vegetables in their summer garden. The funny thing is that it is usually translated as “marinated vegetables” but that’s not right. “Scapece” is an imported word from Spain where it’s spelled “escabeche,” probably from the time when Naples was a great trading port for the Mediterranean. In Castilian, it means “pickled” because of the use of white wine vinegar.
Anyway, enough with the history and geography lesson! This dish is super simple to make. Use as much of these summer vegetables as you can carry and make this dish.
Vedure in Scapece is a perfect antipasto or a side dish to a meat course. This is one of those recipes without a lot of specific quantities. Just use the amounts you like or have on hand. Rough amounts provided below. Also, this post is written out in a lot of detail for those that would value this. Don’t be turned off by the length!
This dish needs to sit overnight before serving. The vegetables keep in the fridge for a week preserved in the vinegar mixture. Later, for a new dish you can add them to a sauté plan with olive oil, fry a bit, add pureed tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes to make a great quick tomato sauce.
Ingredients and Special Equipment:
- Italian eggplant (the large ones, not the smaller Japanese style) – maybe 2 whole eggplants
- Sea salt
- Small- to medium-size zucchini (not the super giant size in mid-summer) – maybe 6 zucchini
- Red and yellow peppers (seeded, de-veined and sliced into 8 slices per pepper) – maybe 4 peppers
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves – minced
- 1/3 cup of oregano or mint (or a mixture of both) – torn or sliced into small pieces
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil (for grilling)
- Small whisk
- A outdoor grill or a grill pan
- A mandoline. If unavailable, use a very shape knife.
- A wide colander
- A wide dish in which you can pickle the vegetables. For example, a Pyrex baking dish that you can cover with foil or a wide food container with a sealed lid.
- Slotted spoon or tongs
- Using a sharp knife, slice the eggplant crosswise (across the width of the eggplant) into 1/2-inch slices. Layer the eggplant in a colander sprinkling a generous amount of sea salt on each layer. Let eggplant sit for 30 minutes and up to 2 hours to draw out the bitter moisture of the eggplant. Afterwards, gently rinse with water and quickly pat dry with paper towels.
- Trim off ends of zucchini and cut lengthwise on the mandoline to a thickness of 1/4 inch. If you don’t have a mandoline, use a sharp knife and strive to cut the zucchini to as consistent a thickness as possible.
- Prepare the pickling mixture by mixing the white vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and mint/oregano herbs. Mix with a whisk.
- Heat the outside grill or indoor grill pan to high.
- Place the sliced eggplant, slice zucchini and pepper strips in separate bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and gentle toss with your hands to coat the vegetables completely. (You can use just one bowl and do this in stages if you like).
- Grill the three types of vegetables in batches on the grill. Grill until you have a light golden brown color and dark grill marks. Grill eggplant for about 8 minutes per side, zucchini for about 5 minutes per side and peppers skin-side-down for about 8 minutes. Time will vary depending on the heat of the grill and how thick you sliced the vegetables. Just keep a close an eye on them as you are cooking and adjust cooking time and heat.
- As the vegetables finish cooking, remove them from the grill with tongs and place in the container and place the foil or lid on to keep warm.
- When all the vegetables are grilled, pour the the pickling mixture over the vegetables. Leave the vegetables in the pickling mixture overnight at room temperature. If you placed in a sealed food container, rotate the container a few times until serving to continue to redistribute the pickling mixture.
- Lift the vegetables from the pickling mixture using a slotted spoon or tongs and place on a serving platter. Form little piles as shown in the top picture.
- Save the container with the pickling mixture in case you have left overs. You can store in the refrigerator for about 1 week to make a pasta sauce as described in the introduction.