Bottle Gourd (or Cucuzza) in Spiced Fresh Tomato Puree

Preparation info

  • Serves

    4 to 6

    Appears in

    Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini

    By Elizabeth Schneider

    Published 2001

    • About

    What’s special about bottle gourd cooked this way is its smooth flesh—like melting melon, but with crunch. Sweet spices perfume fresh tomato puree, which in turn is scented with a mince of coriander leaves—all lending flavors to the bland squash, which absorbs them discreetly. Between salad and cooked vegetable, the dish makes a useful buffet item. Or serve alongside grilled seafood or poultry, or as part of a vegetarian meal, with quinoa or rice.


    • 2 pounds firm, slim bottle gourd (or cucuzza)
    • 1 medium-large onion
    • 3 tablespoons corn (preferably unrefined), sunflower, or peanut oil
    • 1 tablespoon anise seeds
    • 1 tablespoon ground coriander (preferably coarse-ground)
    • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
    • ¼ teaspoon fine-ground white pepper
    • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • 1 pound plum tomatoes
    • ¼ to ½ cup minced cilantro (coriander) leaves


      1. Peel gourd. Quarter lengthwise. Cut out any seeds and attached spongy pith. Cut gourd into slim bite-size triangles. Dice onion.
      2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wide casserole or sauté pan over moderately low heat. Add anise seeds and stir a moment. Add onion and cook until slightly softened, stirring occasionally. Add coriander, cumin, pepper, and ginger. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring.
      3. Add gourd and salt. Cook until juices are released and pan is deglazed, about 5 minutes. Raise heat to moderate and continue cooking until gourd is slightly golden and most liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes longer.
      4. Meanwhile, peel tomatoes (see Note) and chop. Press through food mill to puree and remove seeds.
      5. Add tomato puree to pan. Adjust heat to a gentle simmer. Stir often until slices are translucent and sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
      6. Cool to lukewarm; or chill, if preferred. Fold in remaining 1 tablespoon oil and cilantro.