Making Sicilian Sweet And Sour Pumpkin
Autumn is a wonderful time to visit Sicily. Harvest is in full swing which means that you can taste the first plump grapes and olive oils of the season, plus wholesome chestnuts and mushrooms, bursting pomegranates, juicy mandarins and apples among many other autumnal delights.
Sicily is where Europe ends and Africa begins. It began its history as part of Ancient Greece and soon became part of the Roman Empire. Thereafter the island was invaded by the Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, French, Spanish and Bourbons before unifying with Italy. Each conquest left its mark on the island by introducing a variety of fresh produce.
The island itself is very fertile thanks to the volcanic soil from Mount Etna which creates unique delicious fruit and vegetables.
In autumn you can enjoy hearty dishes in Sicily, and one of the most popular ingredients you will find is Zucca (pumpkin).
You will see this vegetable with its round ribbed skin and deep orange colour, being sold at markets or at the roadside by farmers with their precious produce piled up on their 3 wheeled Ape vehicles, a bit like you would find watermelons in the summer season.
Like a lot of vegetable dishes in Sicily pumpkins were used in poor times to replace meat and were used as an equivalent to liver.
There are many popular Sicilian dishes that you can make using them, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin soup, pumpkin bread, there are so many tempting recipes.
Pumpkins are super healthy too as they are rich in vital vitamins and minerals and snacking on pumpkin seeds are like eating plant-based protein bombs.
For me October equals Halloween and I have always loved to carve a lantern out of a pumpkin since I was a little girl and now I have a home in Sicily it is the perfect excuse to use up all the left over flesh to make one of my favourite dishes Zucca in Agrodolce (Sweet and Sour Pumpkin).
This delicious Sicilian dish is made with the same principle as another of my favourite dishes Caponata.
Therefore here is the recipe for my Halloween Sicilian Sweet and Sour Pumpkin:
One Pumpkin between 400g to 600g
Two Cloves of Garlic
Sicilian Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon of Sugar
2 Tablespoons of White Wine Vinegar
Fresh Mint finely chopped
Salt and Pepper to Season
First cut the top off the pumpkin and set to one side and remove the seeds. With a metal spoon or a Halloween pumpkin carver start to scoop out the flesh inside into slices or chunks.
Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan and add the two cloves of garlic, once the oil is warm remove the garlic and add the pumpkin. Cook the pumpkin pieces in the pan until they are golden then add the sugar, vinegar and mint and leave the ingredients together to mingle.
Mint is a very typical ingredient in Sicily dating back to when the island was under Arabic rule.
For a more exotic jewel colour you can replace the white wine vinegar with red wine vinegar.
In the meantime take your empty pumpkin rind and cut out two eyes, a nose and some jagged teeth, put a candle inside and pop the top back on.
Take a taste of the ingredients in the pan to check for the balance of sweet and sour and season. Transfer to a dish and leave to marinate more and garnish with mint leaves.
Sicilian sweet and savoury pumpkin can be eaten warm or at room temperature or put it in a sealed jar in your fridge and used within three days as an antipasti.
Now your Zucca in Agrodolce is ready light the candle in your Halloween lantern and enjoy the ambience whilst devouring the delicious agrodolce taste of your dish.
Best enjoyed with either a fish or meat dish.
Buon appetito and Happy Halloween.
Pumpkin Photo Gallery
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by Jo Thomas
My Philosophy is to share the delightsof Sicily throughCulture, Food, History and its Peopleusing my 15 years experience of living on and travelling around the island
I am also a Contributor towww.timesofsicily.com
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