Recipe courtesy of Michael Voltaggio

Zucchini Caponata with Olive Dirt

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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 1 hr 40 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 55 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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1/2 cup olive oil

1 onion, julienne 

1 tablespoon minced garlic 

5 zucchini, split and sliced on the bias 

1/4 cup capers 

1/4 cup golden raisins 

Leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil, plus additional for garnish 

1 sprig fresh thyme 

1/4 cup red wine vinegar 

2 cups yellow tomato puree 

2 tablespoons sugar 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Neutral oil, like canola, for frying

1 cup pine nuts 

Olive Dirt, recipe follows

Olive Dirt:

200 grams pitted Kalamata olives

200 grams panko 

100 grams all-purpose flour 

75 grams unsalted butter 

25 grams dark cocoa powder 



Special equipment:
a deep-fryer
  1. Heat a wide saute pan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the zucchini and let caramelize, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the capers, raisins, basil and thyme. Deglaze with the vinegar. Add the pureed yellow tomato. Cook over high heat until everything is coated and mixed together, about 3 minutes. Season with sugar and some salt and pepper.
  2. Bring neutral oil to 375 degrees F in a deep-fryer. (See Cook's Note.) Place pine nuts in a mesh strainer, then lower them carefully into the oil and let fry until golden. Lift back out to a paper towel-lined tray and season lightly with salt.
  3. Put zucchini caponata into a bowl. Sprinkle pine nuts and Olive Dirt on top. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and basil buds.

Olive Dirt:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pulse olives, panko, flour, butter, cocoa powder and some salt in a food processor until it resembles wet dirt. Spread on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and toast in the oven, 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then pulse again in food processor.

Cook’s Note

As an alternative to frying, the pine nuts can be toasted in a 350 degree F oven until golden.