It was labeled “Snake Squash” at my local farmer’s market, and the Harry Potter Fan in me couldn’t refuse. I’m lucky to live in New Jersey–land of the Italian-American’s. Cucuzza is a popular vegetable in Southern Italy and is rare (but not impossible) to find in the US. However, if you do come across it, get it not just for the novelty, but the size!
A large family or dinner party would benefit from one massive hunk of zucchini-like squash. And even with lots of cucuzza leftover, you can find lots of other ways to toss some extra vegetable into your everyday meals. I still have another pound of it in my fridge and was thinking of making Spiced Zucchini *cough cough* I mean Spiced Cucuzza Bread!
And with October slowly creeping in, this could be a fun house decoration for the coming Fall Season (it is a gourd, after all). I can totally picture it in Miss’s Wesley’s kitchen, can’t you?
About: A twisted, elongated summer vegetable commonly used in Sicilian cooking that can grow 15 inches to 3 feet long. Its shape can be straight or curvy, depending on how it’s grown. Technically classified as a gourd, cucuzza comes from the Italian word googoots which is slang for “big squash”, or “a lazy person”.
AKA: Snake Squash • Bottle Nose
Origin: Southern Italy
In Season: mid-summer to late fall
Fun Fact: Louis Prima sang a song about it, listen here.
Nutrients: antioxidants • fiber • vitamin C
Benefits: anti-inflammatory properties • reduces digestive issues • maintains blood pressure and cholesterol levels • improves eye health
Substitutes: zucchini • summer squash
Store: Italian markets or farmer’s market.
Online: Amazon (seeds) • Grow Italian (seeds) • Melissa’s
Selection: Choose squash with firm, smooth skin and the stem still attached to nourish after picking. Avoid squash with bruises or soft spots.
Cut: Peel off the skin because it’s tough and inedible. Then cut off the top and bottom ends. Smaller cucuzza squash have seeds that are fine to eat, so you can cut the squash into any shape and proceed with cooking. If your squash is super long and large, cut it into thirds, crosswise, then in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon, as they are hard and not pleasant to eat.
Cook: Cook as you would a zucchini or summer squash.
Storage: Keep whole cucuzza in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Wrap cut squash in plastic wrap and use within 1-2 week.
Taste & Texture: light • crisp • mild • a little nutty
Suggested Uses: sautéed • grilled • baked • stuffed • stir-fry • soups and stews • casserole • pasta
Cucuzza Stew (via Cooking Italian Comfort Food)
Cucuzza Squash Bake (via The Healthy Family and Home)
Baked Cucuzza Fries (via Serious Eats)
What do you know about Cucuzza?