Today’s What’s Cooking Wednesday recipe probably isn’t one you’re going to rush out and try, but I couldn’t let another week go by without writing about:
Actually I didn’t even know that would be an acceptable name in English for them, but it was my guess, so that’s what I typed into Google, and found a post by Rowena at Rubber Slippers in Italy (Great blog! Go read it!) entitled: Prickly Zucchini from Calabria.
I asked around a bit here, and no one even knows the name of these spiny little things in Italian; in Calabrese they are “cucuzze spinusi” where cucuzze is a general name for zucchini/pumpkins and spinosi (spinusi in Calabrese) means spiny or prickly.
And because of Rowena’s commenters, I learned that our cucuzze spinusi are better-known as chayote, popular in many parts of the world, particularly Mexico. Also, Wikipedia tells me that the Italian name is zucca centeneria, but I’ll stick with cucuzze spinusi since no one around these parts would know what I’m talking about otherwise.
That same Wikipedia page gives some serving suggestions, which are basically all the things you’d do with un-prickly zucchini (yes, I was tempted to write “prickless”), but I’m going to share the way everyone eats them here–this according to a very informal survey at the local grocery store.
Fried Prickly Zucchini
Olive oil for frying
So you’re probably wondering how to get the spines off.
First, these are real spines, not like the baby ones that prickly pears have. So first trim off the spines with a sharp knife and then peel it “come la mela” (like an apple) as P says.
Slice the zucchini to your desired thickness, discarding the innards along the way.
Mix a bit of salt with flour in a shallow bowl, and get dredging.
Fry them up until they’re a light golden brown (P left the ones in the photo in the oil *a tad* too long but they were still delicious), and you can taste your very first fried prickly zucchini.