Ingredient Spotlight: Cucuzza (“Googootz”)

In the last episode of The Sopranos, Tony asks Carmela, "Where's googootz?" "Googootz" is an Italian term of endearment; Tony was referring to his son, AJ. "Googootz" is also the Italian slang for "zucchini," and refers to a squash-like vegetable that Italians and Italian-Americans grow called cucuzza.

Cucuzza is an Italian summer vegetable that is eaten and prepared like a zucchini. Unlike zucchini, it's not a true squash; it is a gourd. It grows long and is shaped like a cucumber. It has pale green skin and white flesh. Both flesh and seeds are edible; the skin must be peeled off. When dried, it can be made into a drinking gourd. When selecting a cucuzza for cooking, it should be firm and glossy, with no soft spots. Cucuzza is also known as calabash, suzza melon, zuzza, New Guinea bean, and Tasmania bean. They grow up to 27 inches long and 6 inches wide.

It can be prepared the same way as zucchini; baked, fried, stuffed, cooked in stews, and stir-fried. It can also be baked into spice cakes. Here are some cucuzza recipes from Recipezaar.

I've actually never seen one of these. Have you?

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(Images: Salvatore V Barrera and flickr user topquark22 - thanks!)

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