Variety Pack Favorite Recipes – Ladies of the Sacred Heart

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The Variety Pack Favorite Recipes Cookbook is compiled by the Ladies of the Sacred Heart, here in Houston, Texas.  I recently found this gem of a cookbook at an estate sale.  I had no idea this book existed.  It’s full of wonderful recipes, and to my surprise, there is a small section on cucuzza recipes!

Most people have never heard of a cucuzza.  A cucuzza is a long green Italian squash, which has the texture of an eggplant, but tastes more like a zucchini, but with a slight nutty taste.  I normally grow these in my backyard, but I didn’t grow any this year, as my husband hasn’t made a bed or trellis for them in our yard yet.  However, I plan to grow them next year, for sure!  I purchased this cucuzza at Canino’s Produce, off of Airline Drive.  I plant my cucuzza seeds on St. Joseph’s Day, just like my Aunt Frances always did, which is March 19th.  The seeds start off growing slow, but by June and July, the established plant grows extremely fast.  The vine can grow up to 2 feet in one day and the squash can grow up to 2 inches in one day!  They grown to the length of a baseball bat and one squash can easily be used for two recipes of your choice.  I’m attaching a photo of me with the squash.  As you can see, my puppy Shady, was intrigued with the cucuzza, and wanted a bite.

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Naturally, I decided to try a recipe to use the cucuzza I had purchased over the weekend.  It was hard to choose, but I finally decided on “Creole Ro-Tel Cucuzza”.   Now, if you don’t have a cucuzza, you can use zucchini instead.  This was a simple meal to make and I served it  over rice, along with garlic bread.  It would have been delicious with a salad, but I was out of lettuce.  Here is the recipe, with just a few minor changes.  I’m not fond of lima beans, but I put in a smaller can than the recipe called for, because my husband likes them.  However, I’d be happy without them in there next time around.

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Creole Ro-Tel Cucuzza

1 (2-3 pound) cucuzza, peeled and diced

1 large yellow onion, chopped

Olive oil, for sautéing

1 pound lean ground beef

1 (10 oz.) can Ro-Tel diced tomatoes

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 cup water

1 (8.5 oz.) can Del Monte lima beans, rinsed and drained

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

Salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté cucuzza and onion in a large skillet over medium heat.  Once they are translucent, remove from skillet.  Brown ground beef in skillet, until done; drain.  In skillet, combine cucuzza, onion, and browned ground beef.  Add Ro-Tel, , tomato sauce, water, lima beans, garlic, Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper.  Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

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