Blu Aubergine Blog

RECIPE: Concia, a Roman Jewish tradition

Rome's Jewish ghetto, 2 pm. I'm starving and sweating in Rome's midday heat and humidity. I don't want pasta, or risotto, or even any secondo that is served warm. I want room temperature and cold dishes, and something refreshing and flavorful with an acid kick. I want concia (pronounced "CONE-cha"). 

What is this dish exactly? It's one of many examples of cooked vegetables marinated in an acid (in this case the vinegar) to preserve the vegetable. That it adds interesting depth of flavor may be just a happy coincidence: like many dishes of Jewish origin, this was cooked and then eaten a day or two later, on the sabbath, when observant Jews are not allowed to cook or do work of any kind. Concia, a dish specific to the Roman Jewish ghetto, may have originated in Rome. But it may have been brought there by Jews fleeing the Inquisition at the end of the 15th century in Spain. Many Spanish Jews fled to Italy, and brought with them an interesting array of foods previously unknown to Italian palates.
 That this dish so closely resembles the Neapolitan "scapece" may be another link among Jewish cooks: once Naples was conquered by the Spanish a decade or so after the Inquisition began, the Jews in Naples may have fled to Rome, where "scapece" became "concia." Indeed, "scapece" is incredibly similar in sound and spelling to the Spanish "escabeche," which is the identical culinary concept. 

But whether we have the Spanish or the Romans to thank for this dish, it's definitely got Jewish roots. And it's definitely delicious. Enjoy this cooling dish on a warm night throughout the summer months -- and pretend you're sitting on the sidewalk of a trattoria in Rome's beautiful Jewish ghetto...


*6 medium zucchine, about 2 pounds
*1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
*6 medium cloves of garlic
*Half a bunch of mint, leaves pulled from the stems, and torn or sliced into a chiffonade {alternatives include flat leaf parsley and/or basil}
*2 teaspoons kosher salt
*Freshly ground black pepper to taste
*1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
*{freshly grilled bread, optional}


- Trim the zucchini at both ends and slice into discs or lengthwise strips about 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick
- Heat the olive oil in a pan, toss in 2 of the garlic cloves, and allow to infuse the oil for 30 seconds
- Throw in enough zucchini to cover the surface of the pan, but not so many that they overlap -- approximately 2 zucchini at a time. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook until golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the garlic and zucchini.
-  Once all the zucchini has been cooked, return it all to the pan to heat through. Add the vinegar and the mint, and stir to mix the flavors.
- Let sit for at least an hour and as much as one full day to allow the flavors to marry. Serve over grilled bread, if you like.