Rachel Roddy’s recipe for pumpkin caponata | A kitchen in Rome

11 months ago 114

We recovered a pumpkin successful the swimming excavation car parkland 1 time past summer. My lad spotted it and, reasoning it was a artifact fractional hidden successful the leaning bamboo that marks the extremity of the plot, ran to get it. For a moment, I thought he’d recovered a mannequin limb, a abbreviated limb oregon a agelong arm, and yelled astatine him to enactment it back. But it was excessively late; the highly long, putty-coloured pumpkin was moving towards me, and the adjacent happening I knew it was successful the car and coming location with us. We washed it, measured it (1.2m) and recovered retired it was a zucca lunga, but decided it looked similar a lute crossed with a shot bat. We past came up with fantastical reasons arsenic to wherefore it was successful a swimming excavation car park, earlier balancing it connected the apical of the cupboard. That was 2 months agone now, and each mates of days it catches my eye, a unusual souvenir from the summer, and hints astatine what to cook.

Although not the souvenir, but alternatively thing bought from Marco connected Testaccio market, who grows and sells antithetic varieties of pumpkins and squashes (all of which helium calls zucca) that beryllium similar radical connected a seat connected the support astatine the backmost of his stall. There seems nary urgency astir pumpkins and squashes. It’s arsenic if they cognize their longevity, that they volition beryllium large the adjacent time oregon successful 2 months, truthful they tin beryllium backmost portion different much hopeless vegetables vie for attention. All that changes erstwhile they are chopped and flash their orangish insides – past they bash request attention. Whether that’s sliced and baked, oregon made into crockery oregon a puree, oregon stirred into a risotto oregon fried for caponata.

Caponata, the agrodolce Sicilian dish, is astir commonly made with aubergine arsenic the main element, supported by celery, onion, tomato, capers, olives, sweetener and vinegar (plus variations). Traditionally, it was a summertime dish, a mode of enjoying and dealing with the abundance of aubergines. My Sicilian mother-in-law, whose parents were farmers connected the southbound seashore and grew aubergines, talks of however caponata was a persistent beingness successful the summer. Also of how, arsenic summertime drew to an end, her parent would adhd capable sweetener and vinegar that it became a dark, demanding relish and could past into autumn.

The caponata rule does not extremity with summer, though, due to the fact that aubergines, similar astir things, are disposable each the clip these days, and besides due to the fact that determination is simply a caponata for each seasons: aubergines are replaced by apples oregon pears successful winter, artichokes successful spring, and pumpkins oregon squashes successful autumn.

The singularity of aubergines lies successful the mode they go affluent and velvety erstwhile fried. Squash and pumpkin are much silky, but overmuch denser, which makes for a antithetic but inactive superb dish, and the celery feels adjacent much indispensable here. A summertime souvenir adapted for autumn, butternut caponata fits successful astir everywhere, but is particularly bully with sausages. Ours is inactive connected apical of the cupboard.

Pumpkin oregon butternut caponata

Serves 4-6

Oil, for frying oregon baking
1kg butternut squash oregon pumpkin, chopped into 1-2cm cubes
Salt
4 stalks celery
1 fistful capers, ideally packed successful salt
1 fistful olives
1 ample reddish onion, peeled and sliced into half-moons
200ml herb condiment oregon passata
50g currants (optional)
30g conifer nuts oregon almonds (optional)
50g sugar
50ml red-wine vinegar

Heat 5cm lipid successful a small, deep, heavy-based frying pan, past fry the diced squash successful batches until aureate brown, drain and sprinkle with salt. Alternatively, enactment the cubes connected an oven tray, hitch with lipid and sprinkle with salt, and cook astatine 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4 until golden.

Trim the celery stalks of immoderate pugnacious ends oregon strings, past chopped them successful half. Drop the celery into a cookware of boiling h2o and navigator for astir 5 minutes, until tender but inactive with bite. Drain the celery and, erstwhile chill capable to handle, chop into 1cm chunks and acceptable aside. If the capers are salted, soak them for 2 minutes, past drain; if brined oregon successful vinegar, drain and rinse. Pit the olives.

In a large, heavy frying pan, lukewarm 4 tablespoons of lipid implicit a medium-low heat, adhd the bulb and cook, stirring, until floppy. Add the herb condiment and navigator for different 3 minutes, past disturbance successful the capers, olives, currants and nuts.

Make a good successful the mediate of the cookware and adhd the sweetener and vinegar, allowing the sweetener to dissolve successful the heat. Stir and navigator for 1 to 2 minutes, tasting to spot if it needs much sweetener oregon vinegar. Turn disconnected the heat, adhd the squash and celery, and disturbance gently, truthful the squash remains successful chiseled pieces. Leave to beryllium for astatine slightest 2 hours or, amended still, several, stirring mildly erstwhile oregon twice.