Stuffed Squash (Zucchini or Cocuzza?)

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At this time of year, you’ll see a plethora of extra large zucchini at your farmer’s market or even in some supermarkets. I’m always happy to see these large, green squash because I immediately think about stuffing them.   It was just about this time of year, many decades ago, when our neighbors, the Sandersons, would visit various farm markets (they were really just small stands by the roadside then,…nothing like today), and brought back what they thought looked good enough to eat. They were always nice enough to purchase some of this produce for our family. When these large zucchini came through our door, I knew my mother would stuff them with Ginny’s (our neighbor and mom’s friend for over 60 years no) delicious recipe. I still use this recipe, even though it has morphed into something a bit more Italian by adding marinara sauce or mozzarella ( why not?), but I make sure at least half of the batch is in its original form, which truly is my favorite way.

Now for the zucchini versus cocuzza question.   I always thought cucuzza was just Italian slang for zucchini, meaning “a useless person”, and pronounced (or mispronounced), “googoots.” While this indeed is true, there now is a hybrid squash called cucuzza, which really means “large squash.”   I wouldn’t have believed this, but last year, one of my husband’s customers dropped off a heavy box of cocuzza (or is the plural cocuzzi?) at our front door. Yes, some people are paid in cash for their services; my husband is paid in cocuzza! Just kidding, but I laughed as I dragged this 20 lbs box through my front door.

I went on a “stuffed squash” frenzy for days. I didn’t want them to go bad and rot. I gave several away, but I must say that the look on peoples’ faces when I arrived at their houses with this gigantic cocuzza in hand, was just a riot.

We have a friend who grows these cocuzza in his backyard garden, and he’s been kind enough to keep me supplied so I can enjoy Ginny’s recipe for stuffed squash as often as possible

 Truth be told, I prefer the taste of the smaller sized, large zucchini anyway, so don’t feel you have to go on a search for cocuzza. But don’t miss the opportunity to make this recipe or you’ll feel like a real “googoots!”

RECIPE:

1 big squash

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 lb chopped meat

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated Italian cheese

2 eggs, beaten

salt and pepper to taste

mozzarella,sliced (optional)

marinara sauce (optional)

  1.  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and then again widthwise (into four pieces)
  2. Scoop out the insides and cut into small chunks.
  3. Put the skins in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Sauté the scooped out chunks of zucchini in the olive oil in a large skillet until soft.
  5. Add the chopped meat and brown.
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the egg, breadcrumbs and grated cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Put the squash shells in a pan with a little oil on the bottom.
  8. Stuff each shell with the meat mixture.  If using sauce and mozzarella, top with these.
  9. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40 minutes.s-squash-wholes-squash-boxs-squash-small

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