For a long time, cooking with pumpkin meant just one thing: pumpkin pie. It had never occurred to me that pumpkin could be found in a savory dish until I was visiting a friend outside of Catania, Sicily and her mamma made us zucca a stimpirata, a dish with chopped pumpkin, green olives, capers, vinegar, olive oil and mint. I’ll always remember that delicious lunch and am excited to recreate it this autumn, hopefully paired with a glass of Etna Bianco white wine.
Since then, I’ve explored a few other savory pumpkin dishes – senza its pie spices, of course! Many variations of pumpkin soup, pumpkin risotto, mixing pumpkin purée in besciamella sauce, adding marinated roasted pumpkin to salads all make for a festive Fall meal.
Pumpkin is principally used in savory dishes in Italy and hardly, if ever, traditionally used for desserts. In fact, there’s an Italian saying, avere sale nella zucca “having salt in your pumpkin” to say someone is very intelligent (or not if the phrase is preceded with non).
Are you curious to try a Sicilian savory pumpkin dish? I’ve translated the recipe for zucca a stimpirata for you! This is an Italian family size portion, so half it if you think it’s too much!
2 pounds chopped pumpkin (zucca napoletana if in Italy, butternut will work elsewhere.)
20 green olives
2 tablespoons capers
6 cloves garlic
Fresh mint leaves – as you like
Extra virgin olive oil
White wine vinegar
Sauté the chopped pumpkin in a skillet with olive oil until tender and remove from heat, place on a plate.
Lightly smash the green olives and garlic, cook on the skillet with more oil, add capers and cook for a few minutes.
Add the cooked pumpkin, mint leaves, vinegar and salt and sauté for another few minutes.
Serve with bread and a glass of Sicilian white wine.
Let me know how it goes!
Buon appetito :)