Grilled Zucchini or Squash (Zucchine or Cucuzza alla griglia)

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I have to admit that I’m sucker for zucchini.  I like the clean taste of zucchini when added to soups, made into a risotto, or grilled with good extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.  My preference for zuchhini, however, is not shared with many southern Italians and I was especially surprised to find the great disdain for zuchhini or squash (at times called cucuzza <pronounced ko-KOO-tza> in Calabria.  The disdain probably emanates from the fact that the vegetable needs serious manipulation in order to produce decent flavor.

Nevertheless, we recently cooked up a batch of grilled squash or cucuzza and the following is our simple recipe.   A  cucuzza looks like a smooth, light green, pale zucchini with a long curvature and can be between 6 inches and 4 feet in length.  In Italy, folks use the term cucuzza to refer to many types of squash and zuchhini.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 8-18 inch squash or zucchini
  • 1 bunch of parsley or basil, fined chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Process:

Cut the squash or zucchini into 5/16 of an inch pieces (length wise as show in the final product picture above) and place in a large bowl.  Add plenty of Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and mix (by hand) well.  Next, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss, again, by hand.  Grill for 1-2 minutes on each side depending on strength of your grill or indoor grill pan.  You’ll now the squash or zucchini are done when they begin to give a little and exude a bit of their liquid.  On a large serving plate begin layering the squash or zucchini, with each layer receiving a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, grated cheese, and either parsley or basil (whatever you have in the house).  The dish makes a great side for any meat.

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