Silky Marinated Zucchini Pasta Salad

Written by: Sarah Ubertaccio



Time to read 4 min

A few weeks ago, our Italian cookbook club prepared a recipe for Silky Marinated Zucchini from a book titled Portico. Authored by Leah Koenig, this cookbook delves into Roman Jewish cuisine, presenting incredibly unique dishes from a community that was historically segregated from the rest of Italy.

The first recipe we tackled was Concia—the Roman Jewish name for Silky Marinated Zucchini. According to Leah, “the dish’s name stems from a word in ancient Roman dialect for hanging clothes out to dry in the sun, the same way zucchini slices are dried before cooking.” I chose this recipe because Leah mentioned it was one of her favorites during our initial planning conversation. In the book, she suggests serving the marinated zucchini on a sandwich or tossing it with pasta.

When I first made it, I served the zucchini with Pizza Bianca, a Roman flatbread akin to Ligurian focaccia and another delicious recipe from Portico. It was a hit. Many of our cookbook club members agreed that the marinated zucchini was a "keeper" dish and one they would be making all summer long.

Inspired to make it again, I considered Leah’s other recommendation of pairing the zucchini with pasta. Leah notes that it is common among the Roman Jewish community to always have a jar of concia on hand since it can be added to a variety of dishes. It quickly dawned on me that the marinade in the silky marinated zucchini contained all the key components for a wonderful pasta salad: oil, vinegar, garlic, and fresh herbs—all it needed was some pasta and cheese.

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At first glance, the marinated zucchini appears deceptively simple and unremarkable. The ingredients are straightforward. Initially, nothing on the page seemed particularly new or interesting. However, I believe what makes this dish unique is not necessarily the ingredients but the way it is prepared.

The first key aspect is that the zucchini are very thinly sliced. Their thinness gives each bite a silky, melt-in-your-mouth feel. Leah suggests slicing them lengthwise to create long thin slabs, or crosswise to form thin discs. Initially, I sliced them lengthwise to drape over long slices of Italian bread. For the pasta salad, however, I opted to slice them into discs, which are easier to eat with a fork. A mandolin is helpful—and arguably the quickest way—to achieve these millimeter-thin slices.

Another unique aspect of the dish is that the vegetables are fried before they are marinated. This method reminded me slightly of Sorrento’s famous spaghetti alla nerano, a pasta dish made with fried zucchini and a generous amount of provolone cheese. It is also how another recipe in Portico begins: the kosher pasta alla carbonara. Instead of guanciale or pancetta, this version uses fried zucchini tossed with pasta, egg yolks, and a mix of grated Parmigiano and Pecorino cheeses.

Although I usually avoid frying at home due to the mess and the hassle of disposing of the oil, I can appreciate its benefits in this case. Frying the zucchini in a bit of olive oil beforehand ensures that it becomes tender, providing a deliciously soft and satiny texture.

After frying, the zucchini is drizzled with a marinade made of olive oil, red wine vinegar, smashed garlic, salt, pepper, and fresh torn basil and mint leaves. It is then left to rest for several hours, allowing it to absorb all the flavors of the marinade.

For my zucchini pasta salad, I wanted to ensure there was plenty of marinade, so I doubled that portion of the recipe. I used some of the marinade for the zucchini and reserved the remainder to toss with the pasta towards the end. I also added fresh mozzarella—because, in my opinion, pasta salad isn’t complete without cheese—and topped it with toasted pine nuts for added crunch and nuttiness.

Bird's eye view of pasta salad with rigatoni, thinly shaved zucchini coins, pine nuts, cubed mozzarella and fresh chopped herbs.

Silky Marinated Zucchini Pasta Salad

Prep time

60 minutes

Cook time

60 minutes




4 medium zucchini
2 medium cloves of garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh mint
1 cup olive oil, divided, plus more as needed for frying
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar, divided
1 pound rigatoni pasta
1 (8-ounce) ball of fresh mozzarella
3 tablespoons pine nuts


1. Prep the zucchini. Wash and trim the ends of the zucchini. Slice them crosswise, into thin coins, about -inch thick (a mandolin works best!). Place a layer of paper towels on the bottom of a large baking sheet and spread half the zucchini coins on top. Add another layer of paper towels, followed by the remaining coins. Let the zucchini dry for 1 hour, to withdraw the moisture from them.

2. Fry the zucchini. In a large frying, heat ⅔ cup of olive oil over medium heat. Working 3-4 batches, fry the zucchini until soft and golden, about 2-3 minutes per side. Use a spider spoon to transfer the finished batch to a paper-towel lined tray while you fry the remaining. If the pan starts to look dry, add a little more olive oil to the pan and reheat before frying the next batch.

3. Marinate the zucchini. Once the zucchini are cooked, transfer to a bowl and toss together with the herbs, garlic, salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar. Let the zucchini marinate for at least 30 minutes.

4. Cook the pasta. Add the pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until done, but still al dente. Strain the pasta and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

5. Prep the cheese and nuts. Toast the pine nuts in a frying pan over medium-low heat, just until golden and fragrant. Cube the mozzarella into ½-inch pieces. Set aside.

6. Mix together. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Add the marinated zucchini, mozzarella, and remaining olive oil and red wine vinegar. Mix together until the pasta is well coated. Drizzle in the remaining ⅓ cup of olive oil. Top with the toasted pine nuts just before serving.

Sarah Ubertaccio

Sarah Ubertaccio

Sarah Ubertaccio is the founder of q.b. Cucina. She has been making and teaching pasta for over five years. Her favorite pasta shape is garganelli.

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