Zucchini ‘en Saor’ – Sweet and Sour, Venetian-style by Foodie’s Markets Chef Laura Brennan


August 2, 2018

I recently re-watched an episode of “I’ll Have What Phil’s Having” that was filmed in Venice. Phil ate a really gigantic pounded pork chop that was breaded and cooked in an abundance of oil: pan-fried as opposed to deep-fried; not unlike our Southern-fried chicken. To finish, most of the cooking oil was poured off and it was liberally doused with white wine vinegar. This is ‘sweet and sour’, Venetian-style. The same technique is applied to cooking sole and sardines and the vinegary filets are marinated for a day or two and eaten at room temperature. With an abundance of vegetables in the market or your garden, try this recipe with zucchini, or peppers or eggplant.
To make a more substantial dish, I tossed the finished ‘zucchini en saor’ with cooked potato gnocchi and fresh mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
But…it’s equally delicious served on its own as a vegetable dish.

  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yields: With pasta: Serves 4-5 as a main course | Without pasta: Serves 6 as a side dish


2 pounds small zucchini, not more than 1 ½ inch diameter (5-6 pieces)

3-4 ounces thinly sliced red or sweet white onion

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (plus more as needed)

½ bunch (about 2 ½ ounces) fresh, Italian, flat-leafed parsley

¼ cup good quality, white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons (1 ½ ounces) golden raisins (‘sultanas’)

1 teaspoon capers, rinsed

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Pasta option:

12 ounces of your favorite dried pasta or 1-pound fresh pasta (I cooked potato gnocchi.)

Extra virgin olive oil

4-5 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed

2 ounces grated parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper


~ Wash and dry the zucchini. Cut off the stem end and a ½ inch of the bottom end. Cut the squash in half, on the diagonal. Cut each half-piece into two pieces, lengthwise. From each single piece of zucchini, you should get 4 smaller pieces. Continue cutting up all the squash in this way.

~ I like to remove the seeds from the zucchini centers. If you use small squash, the seeds will be barely visible (!) ---just a lighter-colored-triangle running down the center. Use a paring knife and slice away the seeds in one stroke.

~ Lay the squash pieces skin-side down on a sheet pan lined with a paper towel. Sprinkle each piece with kosher salt. Let sit for 5 minutes. The salt will draw excess moisture out of the squash. Be sure to pat-dry before sautéing.

~ Add enough olive oil to the bottom of a big sauté pan to coat cover by 1/3-inch and heat over medium heat until the oil seems to be shimmering. Do not burn the oil. Err on the side of under-heating rather than over-heating the oil. Be Safe!

~ Add the pieces to the pan, carefully. Lift up the pan and tip the hot oil in the pan away from you, then add the squash pieces. Cook until browned. Remove cooked pieces to a dish.

~ Dump the oil out of the pan after cooking all the squash. Add another couple of tablespoons of oil to the pan and sauté the sliced onions until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add the vinegar to the onions and cook until reduced to 1-2 tablespoons of liquid. Add the capers. Taste for seasoning and adjust.

~ Wash and dry the parsley. Pull the leaves from the stems and coarsely chop the leaves.

Mix the chopped parsley into the cooked, marinating zucchini. Pour hot water over the golden raisins to plump for 2-3 minutes. Drain water and add the sultanas to the marinating zucchini.

~ At this point, you can let the dish marinate at room temperature for a couple of hours before you eat it or you could refrigerate it and eat the next day. Be sure to bring it back to room temperature first.

~ If I am NOT serving it with pasta, I would eat it with crusty bread and thinly sliced prosciutto.

~ As I write this I’m thinking some delicious jarred Italian Ventresca (belly) tuna and crusty bread would also be delicious with the ‘zucchini en saor’.

~ If serving with pasta, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water. Drain and toss while hot with the cubed, fresh mozzarella cheese. Add half of the grated parmesan as well. Mix with the marinating ‘zucchini en saor’ (that is at or has been brought back to room temperature).

Toss gently to combine.

Garnish with the rest of the grated parmesan and some extra fresh ground pepper.