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
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 minutes
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 cupPartanna Sicilian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cupParmigiano 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.
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