This recipe is adapted by marrying recipes from Eugenia Bone's Well Preserved and Pam Corbin's River Cottage Handbook #2: Preserves.
It is subtle and useful, perfect for bruschetta, wrapping bite-sized balls of mozzarella, mixing into pasta dishes or antipasto platter with crusty bread. The oil has a wonderful, subtle, smokiness perfect drizzled onto bread, sandwiches, grains, roasted veggies and pasta. Also adds depth to salad dressings - all in all a very useful preserve.
Makes 1 quart
1000 g zucchini (2 medium sized - not baseball bats)
300 ml cider or white wine vinegar
200 ml water
2 fat garlic cloves or shallots peeled & smashed
1 tsp peppercorns
100 ml lemon juice
400 - 500 ml good quality but not extravagant olive oil
Optional: A few rosemary, thyme, parsley or basil sprigs
Sterilize one quart jar per two zucchini. The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends that you sterilize jars by boiling in water for ten minutes. Use clean utensils, wash clothes and towels and make sure to dry your jar thoroughly before using. Use fresh lids each time.
Wash, dry, trim the ends and halve the zucchini lengthwise. Halve again, and slice each portion into planks a little less than 1/4" thick.
Put the vinegar and water in a suacepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm. Meanwhile, place a griddle pan over high heat. (Use your grill if you prefer) Add the zucchine and cook, turning once or twice until lightly charred and beginning to soften. Drop the planks into the hot vinegar bath and leave for 3-4 minutes. This sharpens the flavor of the zucchini and and the acidity helps prevent bacterial growth.
Put a clove of garlic and half the peppercorns into a sterilized quart jar. Remove the zucchini from the vinegar solution and pack it tightly into the jar. Top with the remaining peppercorns and garlic clove and herbs if using.
Add the lemon juice to the packed jar,then cover completely with oil. Seal with a lid.
Note: Pam Corbin recommends that you store this recipe in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks before using. Consume within 4 months. Once opened, keep in the fridge, making sure the asparagus in the jar remains covered with oil, and use within 6 weeks.
Double Note: The above is Pam Corbin's recommendation for asparagus or hot peppers preserved in oil. I believe it should work the same for zucchini, but this recipe is yet untested. I'm keeping mine in the fridge.
Triple Note: If you are expanding the recipe, it is not necessary to do the vinegar and water boiling step over each time. I used the same vinegar solution for 3 - 4 batches.
Variations: Try this substituting spring's first asparagus, char-grilled peppers or lightly cooked artichoke hearts for the zucchini.