How To Cook With Cucuzza

A Southern Italian summer favorite, cucuzza is an Italian squash like no other. With seeds originating from Sicily, Italian Americans everywhere are planting their seeds and nurturing their plants all summer long. Learn about cucuzza and how to use it in your cooking!

What is Cucuzza?

  • Cucuzza, pronounced ku-koo-za, is an Italian summer squash, popular in southern regions of Italy.
  • Cucuzza is characterized by its slightly sweet taste, firm texture, and long light-green appearance. These squash can grow up to 3-4 feet in length, sometimes growing up to 10 inches in just one day.
  • Cucuzza is hard to find at grocery stores. However, it can be found in many Italian American home gardens, growing like wildfire along a fence or terrace in late summer months. This squash requires a lot of attention, sunlight, and water. Seeds are often dried out and saved from the last cucuzza of the season, then shared among friends and relatives hoping to grow their own the next season. 
  • The leaves from the cucuzza plants, known as tenerumi, are also prepared in Southern Italian cuisine. Their slightly bitter taste works well boiled and sautéed with garlic, often served in pasta dishes.
  • Cooking cucuzza accentuates its sweeter side. It is often sautéed with tomatoes and onions and served over pasta. Discover one of our favorite cucuzza recipes below.

Traditional Cucuzza Pasta

Recipe Numbers

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 8


2 Medium Sized Cucuzza, cubed

4 Potatoes, rinsed and cubed

1 onion diced

28 oz can San Marzano D.O.P Whole Peeled Tomatoes, drained and crushed

1 celery heart (the center of celery stalk)

2 tablespoons garlic

2 stalks basil

1 teaspoon pepper

3 teaspoon salt

¼ cup Partanna Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

2 pounds Verrigini Spaghettoro Pasta


Peel and cube squash, removing seeds if necessary. Dice onions, chop garlic and celery. Put olive oil into large pot and bring to medium heat. Sauté garlic and onions. After a few minutes, add remaining ingredients and bring to simmer until potatoes are soft, usually about 45 minutes. 

Enjoy alone or over pasta topped with Parmigiano Reggiano.


The post How To Cook With Cucuzza appeared first on The Secret Sauce.


I am looking for a recipe to make a cook filling using the cucuzzi.My mother used to use this filling to make cookies at Christmas but I do not have the recipe

Carla August 28, 2023

Love this recipe. I sauteed a pound of unskinned Italian sausage and add it to the soup. Others add a pound of sauteed shrimp.

May August 28, 2023

Love this recipe….. whenever I can get one I always cook it in tomato sauce

Dianna August 28, 2023

My dad used to fix this for us when we were teens (40+ years ago). This was the first year I was able to find seeds. I have an abundance of them now and can’t wait to share with friends!

Beth August 28, 2023

I’m looking for more recipes using cucuzza. Could you put some in your news letter.
Thank you.

ps. I just made lasagna using cucuzza instead of traditional noodles. It was super good.

Joann M Hagadorn August 28, 2023

What I find most fascinating about traditional Cucuzza pasta is that this summer squash is found only in Italian American home gardens and rarely available in vegetable racks. Should Mom get to meet up with her Italian friends during movie nights, I’d make sure that she asks for several so we could cook this Southern Italian cuisine for Sunday’s dinner. It would definitely be exciting to have this dish for the first time, so I’d better remind my dad to get a couple of bags of wholesale Italian noodles downtown for this exotic vegetable pasta dish.

Angel Bogart March 22, 2019

I am looking for a recipe to make a cook filling using the cucuzzi my mother used to use this filling to make cookies at Christmas but I do not have the recipe

Angela August 09, 2018

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