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This item was last sold on : 03/06/18
Cucuzza squash, known for its extreme length, can grow anywhere from fifteen inches to three feet in length and can be upwards of three inches in diameter. Its shape can be long and straight or can have a slight curvature. Its pale green skin is thin yet inedible and encases a creamy white flesh. The Cucuzza squash contains petite seeds that are edible when the squash is young but when mature become hard and should be discarded before eating. When young the Cucuzza squash offers a slightly nutty, rich squash flavor with a relatively firm texture similar to that of cucumber and zucchini. Look for Cucuzza squash with smooth, bruise free skin and with the stem still attached as it will continue nourishing the squash up to one month after picking.
Cucuzza squash is available mid-summer through the late fall.
Cucuzza squash, pronounced ku-KOO-za, is an Italian squash botanically known as part of Lagenaria siceraria and a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. Botanically speaking it is a type of gourd, though it is utilized most commonly as a summer squash. In Italy other names include zuzza, suzza melon and cucuzzi. Cucuzza squash is a calabash type related to opo squash, tasmania bean and bottle gourd.
Cucuzza squash is high in fiber and rich in vitamin C. In Italy both the squash and the leaves of the Cucuzza vine have long been used to help aid in digestion as well as in soothing an upset stomach.
Cucuzza squash is used predominately in dishes that require cooking and they should be peeled prior to use. When cooked, it retains its firm texture. Its culinary uses are seemingly limitless and depending upon maturity level of the squash it can be used in recipes that call for summer squash or winter squash. When young Cucuzza squash can prepared in a fashion similar to that of other summer type squashes. It can be sliced and sautéed, grilled, fried and pickled. When older and more firm it can be utilized as you would winter squash and slow roasted or baked and puréed to make soups, sauces and fillings. At both stages of maturity it can be braised or halved, stuffed and baked. In Sicily Cucuzza is popularly candied to make zuccata which is used in desserts such as marzipan cookies and cassata cake. In addition to the fruit of the Cucuzza squash the leaves and tendrils of the squash vine known in Italy as tenerumi are popularly used as well and are commonly used in pasta preparations and soups. Complimentary flavors include tomatoes, eggplant, fennel, garlic, citrus, mint, basil, bitter greens, olive oil, white beans, cream based sauces, lamb, roasted poultry and mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan cheeses. To store, keep whole Cucuzza squash wrapped in a plastic and refrigerate. For best flavor use within one month of harvest.
There is a well-known Sicilian proverb that states, “Falla come vuoi, sempre cucuzza è” meaning, “However you cook it, it’s still just squash”. In Italy, Cucuzza or for slang “goo-GOOTZ” is also a name used to describe zucchini type squash in general. In addition to being a slang term for Cucuzza or squash googootz is also used as an Italian term of endearment. In the 1950’s the famous Italian singer Louis Prima sang praises to the Italian squash in his song “My Cucuzza”, an ode to the famous squash and to Prima's lady love. In the final episode of a popular show in the United States known as the Sopranos Tony asks Carmela, "Where's googootz?" in reference to his son.
Squash known by the name Cucuzza are believed to have first been cultivated and embraced as a food source in the Mediterranean region, most likely in Italy. The squash has a long culinary history in Italy, specifically southern Italy and Sicily. A popular garden vegetable, Italians migrating to New York commonly brought with them seeds of the Cucuzza squash to grow in their new home and then passed down seeds through the generations. Preferring a warm climate, this squash grows in a vining fashion and should be trellised as its vines are prolific growers and can grow up to two feet a day and the fruits as much as ten inches a day.
Recipes that include Cucuzza Squash. One is easiest, three is harder.