Pumpkin and Butternut Squash, Sicilian Style is a great twist on an American classic accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner that I happened upon recently in Italy. It takes very little time to prepare and should be made a day ahead, and is served at room temperature so you won’t need the stove or the oven when every burner is busy. In Italy “zucca” means pumpkin or similar hard skinned squash. You can use pre-cut butternut squash from the supermarket, or peel and cut your own. If using pumpkin, choose small tender pumpkins and remove the strings.
Since you use the oil that you fried the pumpkin/squash in again after frying, use only the best quality. We recommend Calvi Quadro Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it is perfect for the purpose. As always balsamic vinegar is meant to be used sparingly, so use the best, just a tablespoonful of Giusti’s magnificent Family Reserve Balsamic Vinegar will make this dish extraordinary.
5-6 cups of butternut squash or pumpkin, cut into approximate 1″ cubes
1/2 half cup or more Calvi Quadro Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Carlo Giusti Family Reserve Balsamic Vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons crumbled Organic Mixed Mints, or a small handful of fresh mint, chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Use a deep wide-bottomed pan and add about 1/4″ of olive oil to the pot. Heat the oil until hot but not smoking on a medium high flame. Add the pumpkin or squash a piece at a time, and leave room between the pieces. Don’t crowd the pan, you can do this in groups. When the pieces are well-browned on one side turn them carefully and brown all sides until a bit crisp outside and tender inside, about 10 minutes total.
Remove the pieces as they are done to a bowl that will hold all and fill just about to the top. There is no need to drain the pieces. When all the pieces are cooked, add the garlic, sugar, balsamic and mint, and mix gently until blended. Then add a couple of tablespoons of the oil in which you fried the pumpkin or squash, or more to taste, but do not drown the pieces. Let cool to room temperature, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. You can eat this same day as you make it, but trust me, overnight is worth the wait.
When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap and invert onto a serving plate.