pickled pumpkin – version 2

this is the second pickled pumpkin recipe i made. the pickling mix varies quite a lot between the two recipes – rowley leigh's recipe uses cider vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup and spicy flavourings whereas this skye gyngell recipe uses white wine, a much smaller amount of vinegar, a small amount of caster sugar plus herbs and mustard seeds.

truth be told there wasn’t a massive difference in the end flavour apart from a slightly more vinegary chilli kick to the first recipe. i’d happily use either version in future and would probably mix and match between the two recipes.

this dish was very different – the spicy sweet pickled squash contrasts well with the bitter leaves (i used a mix of radicchios) the creamy buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil oil. interestingly the few pecans added a really important contrast of textures – don’t be tempted to miss them out. the similarity was that once again i think this is best served as a starter so you don’t get bored of the pumpkin’s very simple flavour.

skye gyngell’s pickled squash with buffalo mozzarella, basil oil and pecans (serves 4)

12 pecan halves

2-4 balls of buffalo mozzarella, halved

a handful of mixed salad leaves

for the pickled squash:

1 onion or butternut squash (i used a delica pumpkin)

½ a bottle of dry white wine

65ml red wine vinegar

100g caster sugar

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

a small bunch of fresh marjoram or thyme

3 fresh bay leaves

for the basil oil:

25g basil leaves

120ml extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

make the pickled squash first. cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds. leave the skin on (i took mine off as it was quite tough) and slice into large crescent-shaped pieces or strips, depending on the type of squash – they should be about 5mm thick.

pour the white wine and vinegar into a saucepan and add the sugar, mustard seeds and herbs. bring to a simmer. drop in the slices of squash and reduce the heat to low. partially cover the pan and simmer until the squash is just tender when pierced with a knife – about 20 minutes. remove from the heat and allow to cool in the pickling liquid (it will keep for about a week).

while the squash cooks, make the basil oil – place the basil leaves in a blender or food processor, pour in the olive oil, season with a pinch of salt and blitz very briefly until you have a green slushy puree (you will have more than you need for this recipe, keep in the fridge and use within a week). lightly toast the pecans in a frying pan for a few minutes, to release their flavour then cool.

to serve, drain the squash and arrange on a serving plate or individual plates then arrange the mozzarella on top with a few salad leaves. drizzle with basil oil and scatter with the nuts.