Sweet and Sour Grilled Pumpkin Recipe

It’s been quite a while since I’ve shared any recipes from Sicily, hasn’t it?  I learned this Zucca Gialla in Agrodolce, or Pumpkin in Sweet and Sour Sauce, in a cooking class I took from my friends Alberto and Liliana in Catania.  In the version I learned, the pumpkin slices were sauteed in olive oil rather than grilled, but I decided to put my own twist on it today!

I’m wondering if there are any people out there who bought a few sugar pumpkins this year with the intention of finally making homemade pumpkin puree for their Thanksgiving pies.  I did.  And no, I never got around to baking those pumpkin pies from scratch.  But this recipe is so delicious and so simple to make, I’m not regretting it all!

I have the original recipe somewhere around here, along with the other recipes I learned from Alberto and Liliana.  But I just didn’t feel like digging through my (still unpacked) boxes in the office.  So you’re getting my improvised and Americanized version of Zucca Gialla in Agrodolce.  I do remember hearing that the old Sicilian way to serve this dish is with thinly sliced raw garlic and chopped fresh mint adorning each slice of pumpkin.  I didn’t do that, but feel free to try it!

For those of you who don’t live in San Diego, land of year-round grilling, you may revert to the original recipe and brown the pumpkin slices in olive oil rather than cooking them on the grill.  You could even throw a smashed clove of garlic into the oil to flavor it while it’s heating.  Just remove the garlic before adding the pumpkin so it doesn’t burn.  Brown the pumpkin slices in batches over medium heat, adding olive oil as needed, then remove them to a serving platter.  Drizzle with the sweet and sour sauce before serving.

Zucca Gialla in Agrodolce (Sweet and Sour Grilled Pumpkin)

1 – 1 1/2 pounds sugar pumpkin*
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
kosher salt
3 tablespoons wine vinegar (red or white)
3 tablespoons white sugar
chopped fresh mint or parsley (optional)
thinly sliced garlic (optional)

1. Prepare coals or preheat your gas grill. Cut Pumpkin in half, scrape out seeds and membrane. Peel each half and cut into 1/4-1/2 inch slices.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, one clove of minced garlic, and a generous pinch of kosher salt.  Add pumpkin slices and toss well to coat.

3. Grill pumpkin slices over medium to medium-heat for a few minutes on each side or until just tender. Watch closely and don’t let them burn.  Remove grilled pumpkin to a serving platter.

4. In a small saucepan, mix vinegar, sugar, and any garlic oil left in the bowl.  Cook until sugar is dissolved and mixture thickens just slightly.  Drizzle sweet and sour sauce over the pumpkin on the serving platter.  Garnish with fresh chopped mint or parsley and thin slices of raw garlic if desired.

Recipe Notes: *If you can’t find sugar pumpkins, try substituting butternut squash or acorn squash.  If you decide to saute the pumpkin slices rather than grill them, start with two tablespoons of oil in the pan, and add more as needed.  When all the slices have been cooked, add the vinegar and sugar to the remaining olive oil in the pan and heat until sugar is dissolved and sauce thickens just a bit.  Serving the pumpkin with thinly sliced fresh garlic and fresh chopped mint is traditional.  I prefer to skip the raw garlic and serve it with either fresh chopped mint or parsley.

Yield: four servings.

This sugar pumpkin was intended for a pie, but we're happy he ended up on the grill instead!

This sugar pumpkin was intended for a pie, but we're happy he ended up on the grill instead!

Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the insides. Save the seeds for roasting if you're into that kind of thing!

Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the insides. Save the seeds for roasting if you're into that kind of thing!

I find that a vegetable peeler works very well for peeling pumpkins (and butternut squash).

I find that a vegetable peeler works very well for peeling pumpkins (and butternut squash).

Cut the pumpkin into slices that are between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. They don't have to be perfectly uniform.

Cut the pumpkin into slices that are between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. They don't have to be perfectly uniform.

The whole process only takes a few minutes!

The whole process only takes a few minutes!

Toss the pumpkin with olive oil, garlic, and salt until well coated.

Toss the pumpkin with olive oil, garlic, and salt until well coated.

Grill pumpkin over direct medium heat for a few minutes on each side.

Grill pumpkin over direct medium heat for a few minutes on each side.

To get decent grill marks on a gas grill, make sure you preheat it while you're preparing the pumpkin.

To get decent grill marks when using a gas grill, make sure you preheat the grill while you are preparing the pumpkin.

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38 Comments
  1. kellypea

    This turned out perfectly! You mentioned it on Twitter earlier and I knew it would be amazing. I used my cute little pumpkins, but am thinking butternut squash could be good, too? Wonderful recipe!

    5:10 pm  Nov 24th, 2008
  2. Ruby

    WOW! I think I would love this, might even have to mill it for Abby!

    6:33 pm  Nov 24th, 2008
  3. Kalyn

    This looks really amazing! I just cooked buttercup squash for the first time today and I’m thinking it would be great for this recipe. It’s a little sweeter than butternut, but very tasty!

    9:01 pm  Nov 24th, 2008
  4. Karina

    Another gorgeous dish that sounds irresistible! I love your idea of grilling the pumpkin. So California- by way of Italy. So, when I can I come over?

    9:11 pm  Nov 24th, 2008
  5. Zoë François

    I was just looking at my grill, as it snowed and wondering why we hadn’t put it away for the winter. Now I know, I was meant to grill pumpkins!

    9:16 pm  Nov 24th, 2008
  6. Giff (Constables Larder)

    This sounds really interesting. I don’t always love cooked pumpkin (I inherited that anti-yam gene) but I’m definitely going to give this a shot. Thanks!

    10:03 pm  Nov 24th, 2008
  7. RecipeGirl

    My sugar pumpkin are all gone already this year, but it would be nice to do this w/ butternut squash as you suggested. Never had thought to put winter squash on the grill!

    11:21 pm  Nov 24th, 2008
  8. South of Rome

    Yum! I’ll be arriving in Sicily for 10 days this Thursday I can’t wait for the fabulous eating. I’m curious about the cooking class you took? Do you have any more information on it? Thanks!

    1:10 am  Nov 25th, 2008
  9. South of Rome

    Oops, one more thing. Your photos are fantastic. You should submit some to the ThinkSicily photo contest. I think today is the last day. The prize is a case of Sicilian Wine!! Ciao, Karen

    1:12 am  Nov 25th, 2008
  10. kickpleat

    oooh, i love the sound of this! i love the tang of vinegar and i’m sure it’s wonderful on squash!

    1:01 pm  Nov 25th, 2008
  11. Thérèse-Marie

    This sounds delish…I have 2 small pumpkins left from my garden and
    I am going to use one for this recipe.
    Wonderful images as well…
    Happy Thanksgiving, Nicole…! ! !

    3:54 pm  Nov 25th, 2008
  12. pam

    I’ve had sweet grilled pumpkin, but never sweet sour, this sounds wonderful!

    4:34 am  Nov 26th, 2008
  13. Ramona

    WOW! This is amazing! I actually have one small pumpkin in my fridge so I’m surely gonn a try this recipe. This is the first time I see pumpkin cooked like this!

    10:33 am  Nov 26th, 2008
  14. robin // caviar and codfish

    Really love the play on sweet and sour, Nicole.

    8:47 am  Dec 7th, 2008
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  16. Joumana

    Perfect recipe! It is just my kind of food too!

    6:22 pm  Oct 28th, 2009
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  21. Carrie

    Hi! I am doing a blog with different pumpkin recipes everyday until Thanksgiving. I would love to do this recipe. Do you mind if I link to it and publish my version of it?
    everythingpumpkinexceptthepie.blogspot.com

    5:20 pm  Oct 14th, 2010
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  24. chefcristo

    hi, pinch;
    a foodie here: love it all, especially mediterranean, italian in particular. cooking, internet, manhattan , theatre, architecture, music, biking (to a degree: minor leg prob.) are some of the things i enjoy.

    it’s halloween time, ergo bought 2 big sugar pumpkins for display, and eventual cooking. when i saw your recipe for grilled pumpkin sicilian style, i copied it for making it in the future. i especially noted you use of garlic: one of my favorite foods of all time.

    i’ll let you know how it turns out. (i thought of a sprinkle of pumpkin spices to maybe liven it up, but will try it first without).

    enjoy the san diego weather, and your grill, one of which i also have.

    thanks,
    chris

    9:25 am  Oct 31st, 2010
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  34. Simonr

    This was an absolutely perfect recipe. It came out just as you described. Thank you so much.

    2:35 pm  Jul 7th, 2012
  35. Karoline Bininger

    You article is well written. I enjoy reading your blog.

    12:04 am  Feb 1st, 2013
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