Friday, August 24, 2012

"Squash" Plus An Italian "Stuffed Cucuzza Long" Recipe

I can’t seem to fathom that the end of August is upon us. It feels like yesterday was Father’s Day and July 4th all wrapped into one. The days and the months are just flying by like a butterfly over flowers. Now I can understand what my grandparents and parents told me years ago about time going so quickly. September is approaching which means that school is starting soon here on the East Coast. Even though the kids are not looking forward to getting back in the routine, I know that many parents are. Colleges are about to begin their first semester and my niece Lauren is embarking on her freshmen year as her college journey commences. So with that being said it is also a time to start harvesting your garden and enjoying your many varieties of home grown fruits and vegetables.

Squashes, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, and lettuce, are just some of the veggies that people are using to prepare for their family table. I always loved this time of the year, as it starts to get cooler and summer is winding down. Before you know it, the leaves will be changing colors and the trees will be like a kaleidoscope of colors. This is a perfect time of year to not only enjoy your own garden of home grown foods but also to frequent your Farmer’s Markets for their produce. They are stocked with many varieties of fresh tasty foods and are waiting for us cook them to perfection. One of my favorites is the squash.

Summer Squash
Squashes come in many sizes, colors, and shapes. They are considered a vegetable in cooking, but botanically speaking, a squash is a fruit because of its seeds. In North America, squash is grouped into two categories, “summer” and “winter”. Summer squash is divided into 4 groups such as, crookneck, zucchini (green and yellow), straight neck, and scallop (patty pan). They have thin, edible skins and soft seeds. Summer quash are high in vitamin A and C plus have niacin. The flesh is tender and sweet plus requires little cooking time. Winter squash can be stored through the winter, even though they are a warm weather crop. Some Winter squashes are acorn, spaghetti squash, calabaza, butternut, hubbard, turban, banana, and many other varieties including pumpkins. The winter squash has hard, thick skin, which requires a longer cooking time. They are high in vitamin A and C, plus iron and riboflavin. Gourds and pumpkins are from the same family as squashes.

Winter Squashes
I remember my mother used to make a type of squash called Cucuzza (means super long squash), but we called it in Italian “goo-gutzalong”. She would take this Italian squash and stuff it with a meatball stuffing, cook it and serve it over rice. Cucuzza comes from the southern regions of Italy; Campania, Calabria, and Sicily. It’s skin color is light green and the shape is very long, curved and bottom heavy. It is prepared just like zucchini and has the same tender, mildly-sweet flavor with it‘s pure white flesh. This Italian squash can grow to three feet in length. The season for this squash is from June until frost. Cucuzza is high in vitamin C and fiber plus contains no fat or sodium.
Italian recipes using Cucuzza range from very simple to quite complex. Anyway you prepare this sweet appealing squash would be a palatable experience and certainly full of flavor. I would love to share with you my mom’s recipe, called “Stuffed Cucuzza Long”. Mangia! Molto Bene!

Stuffed Cucuzza Long


1 long Cucuzza
Celery cut in chunks plus leaves
Tomato sauce (small amount)
Olive Oil to coat bottom of pot
Salt & pepper to taste
1 recipe of “Mama’s Meatballs” (click link below)


Prepare Cucuzza by peeling it and cutting it in rounds or cylinders about 2” thick. Next take out the seeds and leave most of the white pulp, just enough to be able to stuff with meatball stuffing mix. Put aside and prepare the un-cooked meatball mix. Once that is ready you can now stuff the cut rounds of uncooked Cucuzza. Stuff but not overflowing, then put aside. Now take a Dutch oven or large heavy pot and coat the bottom with some olive oil. Cut up your onions and celery. Once oil is shimmering add the onions and celery, sauté till somewhat soft, then add about 1/2 cup of tomato sauce for color. Stir and then add your rounds of stuffed Cucuzza. Add some salt/pepper and water to pot not to cover the squash, but just enough to go half way up each piece, to cook in. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. You need to turn each piece every 15 minutes, so each piece gets cooked and remember you are cooking uncooked meat. If you need more water add a small amount at a time. Cook for about 1 hour or so depending on the size of your Cucuzza rounds. You can serve over rice. Enjoy!

Till Next Time………………………….

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