At the first hint of cool weather, cucuzza squash starts showing up at the farmer’s markets and produce stands around Acadiana. Some folks are unfamiliar with this elongated green squash variety, but those in the know look forward to it every autumn season. Time for a Stuffed Goo-Gootz.
For most of us, cucuzza is pronounced exactly the way it’s spelled—CUH-coo-za”, but this vegetable is actually a Sicilian variety and any good Italian would call it a goo-gootz.”Who’s to argue? Certainly not a Louisiana boy like me who refers to mirliton as MAL-e-tawn.
I’ve used this squash in a variety of Cajun recipes that are interchangeable with zucchini. Peeling, seeding and chopping the cucuzza is the standard prep work needed and from there the recipe variations are endless. But when I saw the oversized goo-gootz at Fresh Pickin’s market I began thinking about a Stuffed Goo-Gootz in a dramatic recipe presentation.
Stuffing bell peppers, eggplant and squash, especially mirliton, is a very common Cajun recipe. With these goo-gootz, I decided to go with a rice-based stuffing featuring an all Louisiana line-up of ingredients; fresh pork sausage, pecans, spicy tasso, and the holy trinity of vegetables to make this Stuffed Goo-Gootz a classic Cajun recipe.
Anyway you say it, these stuffed cucuzza, uh, goo-gootz, translate into a flavorful one-dish Cajun meal.
- 4 large cucuzza squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup diced yellow onion
- ½ cup diced celery
- ½ cup diced bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- ½ cup diced tasso or smoked ham
- 1 pound fresh (uncooked) pork sausage or ground pork
- 6 cups cooked Louisiana long-grain white rice, such as Supreme
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, [url:1]see recipe here[/url
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ½ cup diced green onion tops
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Wash the squash and using a sharp knife, slice the top one-third of the squash lengthwise revealing the inside. Remove any visible seeds and brush with olive oil. Place the squash on a foil-lined baking tray and cover with foil. Place in the hot oven for 30 minutes, or until it begins to soften. Once the squash is tender, remove from the oven and using a small spoon, scoop out the inner meat of the squash leaving a cavity for stuffing. Chop the scooped-out squash into small chunks and reserve for later use. Place the whole squash cavities back onto the baking sheet and reserve for later stuffing.
- In a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat, bring the oil to temperature and add the onions. Once the onions become translucent, add the reserved squash, celery, bell pepper, parsley, and garlic, and stir for 3 minutes. Add the tasso and pork sausage and continue stirring until it just begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the cooked rice along with the chicken stock and stir to incorporate all. Add the seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the skillet and continue cooking for another 5 minutes as the mixture steams. Uncover and add the pecans and onion tops. Stir to combine.
- Spoon the stuffing mixture into the squash cavities and cover. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes until the tops begin to brown. Serve with hot French bread.
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Joyce Gilmer says
Great tasting. Thank You
George Graham says
You’re welcome Joyce.
Barbara Corbello says
I have to try this dish; it’s the most pleasant sounding dish that I have found! I’ve been growing cucuzza since early spring and managed to have it producing again, in spite of the vine borers! I only recently discovered the vegetable and am excited to find a fellow Cajun who loves cooking with it. Thank you for the recipe!
George Graham says
Hey Barbara- Cucuzza squash is one of those unsung heroes of the vegetable world that have remained undiscovered. Leave it to Cajun home cooks to transform this gourd into delicious recipes. Thanks for the comment and good luck with those pesky vine borers.
Judy Coughlin says
Thank you for this recipe, Mr. Graham! I discovered this vegetable when I was trying to put in a “quarantine/drought garden” as vegetables were a little scarce around here. My seeds arrived so late I couldn’t plant them but the local hardware store had Cucuzza, and I bought some plants mistaking them for zucchini. This is an amazing plant and could feed the world! That first year (2020) they did well but this year I only planted two, starting from seed and trellising them. They grew up the trellis onto the 8′ deer fence and headed for the road. The plants were so big that cardinals built nests in them! Needless to say I’m experimenting with ways to preserve them (pickles, freezing casseroles, frozen chunks, slices, grated, etc.) and I hope this recipe will let me blanch and freeze a bunch of larger pirogues for stuffing/baking in the winter. Again, you have helped me so much.THANK YOU!
George Graham says
Hey Judy- Great comments about one of my favorite vegetables. Love where you say that Cucuzza could “feed the world.” Keep growing and letting us know about new recipes.
Are they supposed to be a meter long?
George Graham says
Cynthia- They can grow quite long in length, and three feet or so is not unusual. Give it a try. It’s delicious.
Katie L Williams says
I love this recipe, and I will not only try it, but send it to my dad, who’s always looking for new things to do with cucuzza. I never realized, until recently, that there is such a large Italian-American population in Louisiana, due to the immigration to New Orleans! Very interesting fusion of cultures, which reflects in the dish here…yum!
The cucuzza and sausage is a great recipe. Ours were long and skinny, so not good for stuffing. I made it into a casserole instead. I peeled, cubed and baked the squash, then followed the instructions. Put everything into a greased baking dish instead of the squash shells, and covered it with shredded mozzarella before baking. Cooked for about 40 minutes until it was bubbling and the cheese was a little brown. Delicious!
Don liberto says
Haven’t tried it but sounds great. I will try this tomorrow
I’ve eaten cucuzza many ways but never like this. Right now my husband has about 12 cucuzza’s hanging from his arbor so I definitely want to try this one. So far my favorite is cucuzza in red gravy with Italian sausage and cucuzza cake. Thanks for the recipe.