Friday, August 8, 2014

My Mom's “Italian Stuffed Cucuzza Long” Recipe...Delizioso!

When I was a young girl, my mom came home one day from the market with a gigantic, long, green looking thing. This item looked like a baseball bat and if you put my brother Chris (who was the baby) next to it, it would be as tall as he was. I asked her this peculiar day, what is that for? She said to me, “we are going to cook it, stuff it, put it over rice, and eat it.” I asked her what was it called? She said, “It was an Italian squash called a goo-gutzalong." Pronounced (ku-koo-za or goo-gootz) Being young and had no idea, I said to her, “gross.” Then I remember my mom’s sweet words which were, “wait till you taste this squash, stuffed with a meatball stuffing in a tomato sauce, you will love it and want more. It’s like a melody in your mouth, mark my words!” Well, all I have to say is that, mother’s ARE always RIGHT! As I make this delicious dish today, my mom’s words still echo in my head, “You will love it!” And I do!!!

Cucuzza comes from the southern regions of Italy; Campania, Calabria, and Sicily. Its skin color is light green and the shape is very long, sometimes curved, and bottom heavy. In English, the word "cucuzza" means "super long squash." With its origins in Italy, the cucuzza seeds have been in the same family for generations. 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, which is sometimes late November. Cucuzza is high in vitamin C and fiber plus contains no fat or sodium. Italian legend says, “Eat Cucuzza and you will prosper and live a long life…”


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.


Summer Squash
Winter squash can be stored through the winter, even though they are a warm weather crop. They 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.

Squashes, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, and lettuce, are just some of the veggies that people are using to prepare for their family table. 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. 


Winter Squash

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, “Italian Stuffed Cucuzza Long.” Mangia! Molto Bene!

                  



 “Italian Stuffed Cucuzza Long”

(Sorry, this photo was taken by cell phone)
Ingredients:
1 long Cucuzza
2 yellow onions
2 large stalks celery cut chunks

Leaves from the celery
1/2 cup Tomato sauce (Del Monte)
Olive Oil (coat bottom of pot)
Salt & pepper to taste

1 recipe of “Mama’s Meatballs” for stuffing

***Yields: 10 meatballs per pound (Depending on how large your cucuzza is, if there is left over meat mixture, you can make meatballs and freeze them or even using them in the cucuzza soup part as little meatballs. 

Ingredients for the meatball stuffing:
6 eggs
3 lbs of beef chuck chopped meat
1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic
2 cups of bread crumbs (if too stiff add a sprinkle of water)
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
3 fistfuls of fresh parsley-chopped



(Sorry, this photo was taken by cell phone)
Directions for the meatballs:
Put the beef chuck in a med-sized bowl and add all ingredients. Gently combine the meat using your hands until evenly mixed. The mixture should be slightly wet and workable, not too sticky.

Directions for the Cucuzza Long:
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. 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 and flavor. Stir and then add your rounds of stuffed Cucuzza. Add some salt/pepper and water in pot. Do not cover the squash with water, but just enough to go half way up each piece, to cook in. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. You need to turn each piece every 10-15 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/simmer for about 1 hour or so depending on the size of your Cucuzza rounds. You know when it is done, when you can put a fork into a piece and it is softer. You can serve over rice. Enjoy!   

Till Next Time………………………….

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6 comments:

  1. Dearest Dottie ;
    What a delightful post , as you know the recipe is even better . My family loves Cucuzza , It's deliciously good , (love all squash) My neighbor grows Cucuzza , I will try next year .
    All the ingredients makes the dish more tasty . I shop farmers markets all spring and summer , they grow organic vegetables and you can tell the difference in taste . I have a large garden , from your post , I will raise Cuczza next year , we raised two types now ... zucchini and straight neck , they freezes well .
    I like the idea of the Cuczza being stuffed and the ingredients makes it deliciously good , do you not think so . Your photos are good and the cell phone ones are also good .
    I also like the idea that the cooking time is not long ... for busy people that is a plus .
    Dottie , your mother is a great cook , like most Italians mothers she can make anything taste good and tasty , many kudos to her . Thanks so much for sharing and have a blessed weekend . ~Nee~ ;-D

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    1. Good evening, Nee.
      Thanks for a wonderful comment dear friend. I am so glad that you liked my post and recipe. It looks like fun trying to grow it, as I did the research for this post, I found that it grows on a vine / tree and grows downward, that is why is it so long. I had no idea....I wish you luck if you try it next year...Like you Nee, I love all squashes and this one is no different. Yes, I agree the meat and all the flavors make it so sweet. The farmers markets are so important that we frequent them as much as we can, they are our local neighbors and always have the freshest foods. Something happened to my camera, but it is fixed now..that is why I had to use the cell phone camera. Thank you for your words about my mother. She still at 85 is going strong, (God Bless her) and cooks really well. You are correct Nee, Mothers are the best and can make magic in the kitchen for sure!
      Have a Blessed weekend as well....Dottie :)

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  2. Oh my.. I know these! My parents use to have them in the garden for years. They kind of "lost the seeds" later on and they don't seem to have them anymore.
    They are the best zucchini ever, so sweet with an incredible texture. I used to love them so much.
    Fabulous recipe Dottie. I have never had them stuffed. As always mamma's recipes are the best!

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    1. Dear Alida,
      So happy that you have had this awesome squash before, yes they are so sweet and the texture is so nice. That must have been nice that your parents used to grow them. They should try to find the seeds again. Yes, mothers are right.....someday you should try this recipe...I think you and your children would love it. I am glad that I was able to give you some memories...Thanks dear friend, for your comment and for stopping by. I hope that you have a wonderful week ahead...
      Dottie :)

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  3. Dear Dottie, I remember the first time my mom made this too. It was so big!! I loved it as well. These are good memories and make us who we are. This is a delicious recipe. One that is so comforting. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

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    1. Dear Catherine,
      I love having memories about my childhood, seems like yesterday. They are so large especially when you are young.But I agree they are yummy and so sweet. I think the meatball stuffing helps to give it more flavor. It is a comforting food, especially on cool nights. My mom always seemed to make this in the summer August was the tradition. But they are still around in the fall, so she also made it then. Thanks for visiting and your warm comment...Have a blessed week, dear friend! Dottie :)

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