Friday, November 13, 2009


A very common method of preservation in Italy is sott'olio, which means "under oil".  Vegetables in particular are "canned" this way to keep them through the winter.  My friend Giorgio preserves many various veggies - from rapini to carrots to grilled pumpkin.  He rolls up grilled eggplant and stuffs them in jars, and submerges roasted garlic cloves, too.  His strict advice is that the olive oil must completely cover the vegetables, and you should run a knife through the jar to release all air bubbles.  It is a simple process to keep food fresh, he says "foolproof", and the oil blocks air from getting in and spoiling the goods.

Jars of homemade verdure sott'olio make nice gifts, too.  Following are two recipes for enjoying yourself or giving away.

Cipollini Sott'olio
This is an onion version of the delicious lampascioni that my famiglia makes in Basilicata.

Baby onions
white wine
2-3 cloves of garlic
zest of 1 lemon or 1 orange (peels not grated zest)
salt, pepper, red chile flakes, bay leaf - any combination of herbs you desire
extra virgin olive oil
canning jars (I prefer jars with rubber gaskets and metal closures)
Peel the baby onions and put them in a saucepan.  Add about 1 cup or so of white wine, along with the seasonings of your choice.  Bring to a boil and simmer about 7 minutes.  Drain and cool completely.  Remove the garlic and lemon peels. 

Once they're cool, put them in a jar with a tight-sealing lid.  Pack them in fairly tightly up to the top of the container, but not into the neck.  Pour the olive oil over top to cover them completely.  Run a knife through the jar to release the air bubbles.  Seal the jars and store in a cool, dry place. 

Zucchini sott'olio
3 medium zucchini
bay leaf, clove of garlic, salt, thyme sprig
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil

Slice the zucchini at an angle to create oval rounds.  Lay them in an 8-inch baking dish, sprinkle with salt and add the bay leaf and sprig of thyme.  Bring the vinegar to a boil, then pour evenly over the zucchini.  Put a plate on top of them to keep them immersed.  Allow the zucchini to stay in the vinegar until completely cooled.

When cool, remove from the vinegar and pat dry with paper towels.  Discard the herbs.  Arrange the zucchini slices in the jar, adding thin slices of garlic if desired.  Pour in the olive oil to cover them completely, and run a knife through the jar to release any air bubbles.  Seal the jar and store in a cool, dry place out of sunlight.

If you read Italian you will find some other great sott'olio recipes here.

Photo credit: Vanz

1 comment:

Chef Chuck said...

Great flavors that last! Very nice :)