Cucuzza Trivia

Scientific Name: Lagenaria siceraria

ku-koo-za or “goo-gootz” (abbreviated speech of Campania, Calabria, Sicily, and all regions of southern Italy.)

Long and firm, this Italian squash has a light green skin and pure white flesh. An Italian import, it can grow three feet in length. The stem remains attached to continue nourishing the squash up to one month after picking. The cucuzza squash offers a slightly sweet mild flavor and a fairly firm inviting texture.

Current Information:
American and ethnic restaurants are showcasing squash in everything from enchiladas to risotto and from tarts to soup. Availability has stimulated the popularity of squash as farmers' markets and produce departments often stock six to eight varieties, ranging in many colors and shapes. Today's cook can shine for weeks creating different dishes using the same ingredient: squash!

Originating in Italy, this special squash currently grows in Ruston, Louisiana by Christopher Marco Cordaro, the owner of the largest cucuzza farm in the country. In English, the word "cucuzza" means "super long squash."

Ethnic/Cultural Information:
With its origins in Italy, the cucuzza seeds have been in the same family for generations.

Holidays/Seasons Available:
The season for this squash is from June until frost, which is sometimes late November Ruston, Louisiana.

Nutritional Information:
Containing no fat or sodium, the cucuzza is high in vitamin C and fiber. A three and one-half ounce serving has about 25 calories. Eating five daily servings of fruits and vegetables lowers the chances of cancer. A recent study found that eating nine or ten daily servings of fruits and vegetables, combined with three servings of low-fat dairy products, were effective in lowering blood pressure.

This squash must be peeled and usually should be seeded. If the seeds are soft, steam or use as a substitute for zucchini in recipes. If the seeds are hard, use like winter squash by either baking, stuffing, or stewing in chunks. Add to casseroles and stir-fries, or make a superb cucuzza souffle. This squash makes delicious quiche, stew, or gumbo. A perfect accompaniment for fish, meat, or soup, it even makes great muffins. Prepare whole, in chunks, or sliced. It may be fried, steamed, sauteed, or microwaved. Top with butter and a squeeze of lemon juice to enjoy its natural flavor. Herbs that complement summer squash are curry, basil, oregano, chili powder, parsley, and garlic. To store, place in plastic bag; refrigerate.

Christopher Marco Cordaro, C.M.C. Foods.
The Great Food Almanac by Irena Chalmers.
Squash: A Country Garden Cookbook by Regina Schrambling.