Squash Caponata: The Perfect Thanksgiving Side

When you dig into a traditional Sicilian caponata, you taste the layers of the island’s cultural history. Featuring pan-fried eggplant stewed into a deliciously tangy, sweet and sour agrodolce sauce, you taste the influences from Arabia (dried fruits and pine nuts), Greece (olives and capers), Spain (tomatoes), and France (ratatouille). 

Served over crusty bread or as salad to accompany meats and fish, the powerfully flavored combination is a staple throughout Sicily. In this version, we switch out the more commonly used eggplant for squash to lend the dish a heartier quality. As a result, while most caponatas call for the addition of sugar and dried fruit, the natural sweetness of squash eliminates the need for any extra sweeteners. 

This is the perfect dish to bring to Thanksgiving dinner, or as a side at any holiday party. Powerfully flavorful and delicious, you’ll most certainly be the only person to bring a caponata. Be prepared though, you’ll be asked over and over again to share the recipe. 

 


Squash Caponata

 

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

▢ 2 delicata squash (or 1 acorn squash)
▢ 1 small butternut squash
▢ 1 medium onion, minced
▢ 2 celery ribs, minced
▢ 1 red bell pepper, chopped
▢ 5 cloves garlic, minced
▢ 4 tbsp Forte Olive Oil
▢ 1 14 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
▢ 1/2 cup chopped castelvetrano olives
▢ 2 tbsp Capers
▢ 1 tsp Dried Organic Flowers
▢ 1 tsp Nepitella
▢ 1 bay leaf
▢ 1.4 tsp Sicilian Chili Flakes
▢ 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
▢ zest from 1 lemon
▢ fresh basil, parsley, or cilantro to serve
▢ toasted pine nuts or pecans to serve

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Start by halving your delicata squash lengthwise and scooping out the seeds. Cut the squash in half once more lengthwise, creating four long quarters. Cut them across into small quarter-moon slices 1/2 inch thick. If you're using an acorn squash instead, halve, seed, peel and cut into 1 inch cubes.
  3. Cut the skin from the butternut squash and dice it into 1-2 inch cubes.
  4. Toss all of the squash into a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast on a sheet pan for 20 minutes, until the squash is soft and beginning to brown. Remove from the oven.
  5. While the squash is roasting, sauté the minced onion and celery in a large pan with 2 tbsp olive oil and salt until they become translucent; roughly 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and red peppers and sauté for another minute. Add the fire roasted tomatoes, olives, capers, oregano flowers, chili pepper, nepitella, and bay leaf and stir together and allow the tomato juice to cook down over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes. Once the squash is cooked, add it to the pan and stir to cover with sauce. Cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add the red wine vinegar, lemon zest and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  6. Serve with toasted nuts and fresh herbs.
  7. Mangiamo!

 

 

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