Agrodolce Squash Hits Sweet Sour Notes As Thanksgiving Side

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Sweet and sour in Italian cuisine, or agrodolce, has roots that predate the Romans, but owes Sicily—and the North African influence to their cuisine—to keeping them alive.

Sicilians braise a vinegar and honey base mixture on grilled meats and fish. They turn roasted eggplant into caponata with a version of it dressed with alliums, raisins, and spices. And sometimes they add nuts and peppers for a textured seasoning that hits most, if not all, notes of the flavor spectrum.

The latter is what we had in mind for this acorn squash in our book “Cook What You Have,” which draws on pantry staples to put together easy weeknight meals. It couldn’t be easier to prepare and will make a perfect vegetarian side dish for Thanksgiving.

While the sliced ​​pumpkin is roasting in the oven — you don’t even have to peel it — we build a tangy-sweet sauce with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and raisins. The mustard, while unconventional, adds an extra tartness to balance the honey and natural sweetness of the nutty vegetable.

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As soon as the pumpkin is almost cooked, we finish it with the agrodolce mixture, so that it takes on a glaze-like shine in the oven. Waiting to add toasted almonds as a garnish retains their crunch for textural contrast to the velvety pumpkin.

Acorn squash is ideal for this recipe because the skin is edible (or can be easily peeled off after roasting if you prefer). Butternut squash also works, but it must be peeled.

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AGRODOLCE ACORN SQUASH

https://www.177milkstreet.com/recipes/agrodolce-acorn-squash

Start to finish: 1 hour

Servings: 4 to 6

1½- to 2-pound acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1-inch-thick half-rings

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

½ cup balsamic vinegar OR cider vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dried rosemary OR dried thyme

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup whole almonds, roughly chopped OR slivered almonds OR slivered almonds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 475°F with a rack on the center position. On a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle the squash with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Toss until well coated, then spread in an even layer. Roast until squash is browned on both sides and skewer inserted into one piece encounters no resistance, 25 to 30 minutes.

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Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, rosemary, and pepper flakes, then stir in raisins.

When the pumpkin is cooked, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Pour the vinegar-raisin mixture over the squash, spread the raisins evenly, and roast until the liquid is bubbling and syrupy, 5 to 7 minutes.

Use a wide metal spatula to transfer the squash to a platter. Drizzle with the glaze from the baking tray and sprinkle with the almonds.

Optional garnish: Fresh flat-leaf parsley OR pomegranate seeds OR both

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more recipes, visit Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at 177milkstreet.com/TBEN