Sicilian Sweet and Sour Zucchini: Zucchini Agrodulce


Agrodulce means sweet and sour.  Zucchini Agrodulce is zucchini sautéed in olive oil with onions, mint, and a sweet and sour sauce.  Sometimes garlic is also added but I prefer not to use garlic.

Vinegar, an essential ingredient in the Sicilian kitchen, is used to flavor many dishes.  Although it may seem that adding vinegar to foods would make it too acidic for most palates, it’s really not the case for this dish.  The vinegar is tempered by the zucchini juices and by adding water. The acidity is further reduced by adding a small amount of sugar so that it is neither too vinegary nor too sweet.  My kids when growing up loved this dish.  In other words – don’t be put off by the vinegar in this dish.

It’s a dish that can be served at room temperature or cold.  Just make sure to have enough crusty bread to sop up the juices.

(Zucchini Agrodulce)

Difficulty Rating:  Easy
Makes 4 servings.

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup or more extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 – 3 pounds zucchini cut in 3/8-inch thick slices
1 large onion, sliced
2 teaspoons minced fresh mint leaves (optional)
Salt and pepper

Combine the water, vinegar, and sugar in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved.

Heat approximately 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Working in batches, add a layer of zucchini slices and cook until golden brown on both sides and zucchini is tender when pierced with a fork, about 6 minutes.  Sprinkle zucchini on both sides with salt and pepper while cooking.  Transfer the cooked zucchini to a bowl and set aside.  Using the same frying pan, add remaining oil and reduce heat to medium.  Stir in onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.  Place the zucchini and all its juices back into the skillet.  Add mint and water/vinegar mixture.  Bring to a simmer and cook on low heat for 3 minutes longer.  Serve with crusty Italian bread to sop up the juices.

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