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Sweet and Sour Yellow Pumpkin

Zucca Gialla all'Agrodolce

Serves 4 to 6

In Italy, pumpkin, or zucca, is used as a filling for ravioli, to make gnocchi, baked into bread, and pureed for soup. In Sicily, pumpkin is marinated and served as an antipasto. The beautiful orange color of this dish, mingled with dark green basil leaves and flecks of refreshing mint, reminds one of a beautiful fall day in New England. I use butternut squash because the taste approximates the sweet pumpkins of Sicily. If you use pumpkin, be sure to buy a small sugar pumpkin; a big jack-o-lantern doesn't have any flavor.

Ingredients

1 pound sugar pumpkin or butternut squash

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

3 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

4 fresh mint leaves, minced

1/3 to 1/2 cup Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil

1 large clove garlic, cut in half

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Cut the stem off and peel the pumpkin or squash. Cut the pumpkin or squash in half, remove the seeds and stringy pulp, and discard. Cut flesh into strips 1/8 inch thick, 2 inches wide, and about 4 inches long. Set aside.

In a 9-x-12-inch glass dish, mix the vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the basil and mint, mix, and set aside.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil, add the garlic, and press it into the oil with the back of a wooden spoon. Remove the garlic when it starts to turn color and discard it. Fry the pumpkin or squash pieces in batches for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until they soften and start to look glazed and brown.

Remove the strips from the skillet and add them to the vinegar mixture. Add salt and pepper, and stir to mix well. Cover the dish and marinate at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours before serving. Or refrigerate and serve the next day at room temperature.

This recipe is from NELLA CUCINA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., in 1993.

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