The summertime glut of green squash, or zucchini, is quickly dwindling, and it's time to take advantage of what's left in farmers markets before it disappears completely. Pickling zucchini is my way to finish the season with zip. It is easy, particularly when done for immediate consumption, without the extra process of canning and all its attendant concerns.

Savory, pickled squash, accented with green peppers, keeps up to two weeks, long enough to enjoy while adjusting to trucked-in produce. And in mid-winter, when squash and peppers grown in the weaker winter sun of distant places appear in supermarkets, you can happily make more. In fact, pickling is a great way to fire-up the flavor of these vegetables and satisfy cravings for that memorable tang.

Zucchini can be pickled many ways - enhanced with garlic and mustard seed, added to sweet and sour chow-chow pickles, or diced, spiced and simmered into chutney. My current favorite evolved from Neapolitan zucchini a scapace, which is based on Spanish escabeche, a pickled fish dish. In both this and the Neapolitan versions, the vegetable is first cooked, then marinated in hot vinegar. In both countries, these pickled vegetables are served as an antipasto or side dish.

Neapolitans air-dry sliced squash, fry it in olive oil, then marinate it in heated, seasoned vinegar. In my simpler, but equally effective version, the squash is oven-roasted and combined with raw peppers and carrots, then marinated in a pungent, hot pickling liquid.

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Italian Pickled Zucchini

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Makes 3 cups, or 6 half-cup servings.

  • Canola oil spray
  • 2 large zucchini, cut at slight angle into 1/4- inch slices
  • 1 medium carrot, cut at slight angle into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded, halved and thinly-sliced
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat a baking sheet with spray oil. Arrange zucchini on the sheet in one layer. Spray zucchini liberally with cooking spray. Roast until zucchini is just slightly softened, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add carrot and bell pepper. In a small, non-reactive pan - like an enameled, stainless steel, or non-stick pan - combine vinegar with water. Add garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Pour hot mixture over vegetables.
  3. Cover with a plate or other heavy object to hold vegetables under pickling liquid. Refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

Nutritional Info Per Serving:
30 calories,
0 g. total fat,
5 g. carbohydrate,
1 g. protein,
2 g. dietary fiber,
203 mg. sodium.

Diabetic Exchanges: 1 Vegetable