What is the difference between Italian squash and zucchini?

The terms Italian squash and zucchini are often mixed up.

Zucchini alone is a type of summer squash that Italians use a lot in their cooking. Sometimes, when they say “Italian squash,” what they mean is zucchini.

But, zucchini, together with all kinds of summer squash, is what generally people mean when they say “Italian squash.” 

Zucchini, the "Italian squash" - The Proud Italian

Nutritional value of Italian squash

Italian squash is healthy because it is low in calories and carbs, and the levels of saturated fat and cholesterol are also very low, so you can eat it without feeling guilty.

It has a good amount of Vitamin C, Iron, and Magnesium, and it also contains vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, and Potassium. 

Plus, the skin of the plant contains a lot of antioxidants, so if you have problems with digestion or an upset stomach, Italian squash can soothe your stomach.

Your eyes, skin, and heart could benefit if you eat Italian squash.

Squashes and pumpkin - The Proud Italian

Summer vs. Winter Squash

All types of squash can be divided into two types: summer and winter. But, don’t be mistaken because of their names; they are all warm-weather plants. 

Summer squashes are ready for harvest during the warm summer months, so people eat them in the summer.

Winter squash is not ready for harvest until the end of the summer. And many types are stored for people who will eat them later in the winter, and that is why they call them winter squash.

Some winter squash types are acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, delicata, and pumpkins. You should cook these before eating them.

Summer squash types are yellow straight and crookneck varieties, zucchinis, pattypan, and scallop squash. You can eat them either raw or cooked.

Summer squash recipes - The Proud Italian

1. Roasted garlic-Parmesan zucchini, squash, and tomatoes

If you need an easy summer side dish to any meal, roasted summer squash is a great option.

Squash and zucchini make a tip-top combination, and also this is one of the simplest summer squash recipes.

You need:

  • 2 small zucchini (1 lb), and cut them into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 2 small yellow squash (1 lb), and cut these too into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 14 oz Flavorino or small Campari tomatoes, slice them into halves
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (1 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 1 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup (2.4 oz) shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh or dried parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. First, whisk together olive oil, garlic, and Italian seasoning in a small bowl. 

Then, put zucchini, squash, and tomatoes in a large mixing bowl. Pour the olive oil blend over the top and toss with hands to evenly coat. 

Now, pour it onto the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. You should season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle parmesan over the top of each.

What you need to do next is roast in a preheated oven 25 – 30 minutes, do this until veggies become tender-ish, and parmesan becomes golden brown.

Garnish with parsley if you would like to, and of course, serve warm.

It will probably amaze you what a good roasting and a fair amount of parmesan can do for veggies. Even kids often report on loving zucchini and squash recipes.

Cucuzza squash recipe - The Proud Italian

2. Cucuzza squash

Cucuzza is snake-like, pale green, favorite squash of Sicilians, known for its extreme height. 

They prepare it in many different ways, but we chose one of the inviting sauteed yellow squash recipes. 

It tastes so well that you are likely to make this a regular meal on your summer dinner rotation.

To prepare this recipe for 4 persons, you need:

  • 1 Long Italian Squash (Cucuzza)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Some large potatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 cup Italian red sauce
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • salt & pepper to taste

First, you need to peel the Cucuzza and cut it into pieces of 2-3 inches and then cut these in two.

Secondly, peel and slice the onion.

Thirdly, peel about 4-5 large potatoes and cut them in 4 to 6 pieces.

Next, put 1/4 cup of EVOO in a 6 Qt. pot and heat oil for only 1 minute.

Now, add the cut potatoes and go on to saute in medium heat for 10 minutes, and don’t forget to stir every few minutes.

Then you should add the sliced onions to the pot and continue to saute for about 15 more minutes.

Next, add the 1/2 cup of Italian Red Sauce and continue to saute until the potatoes start to get a little bit soft but not too soft. 

Then, put the cut Cucuzza and the three 1/2 cups of water into the pot. And, of course, add salt & pepper to your taste. 

It’s essential to stir every few minutes all the time.

Cook it until potatoes and squash are tender, but still not too soft. And when it is done, serve in a bowl with a loaf of Italian bread.

Italian seasoned squash recipe - The Proud Italian

3. Sautéed Italian seasoned squash

Hooray for a healthy veggie. If you were puzzled about how to cook summer squash, we have some more yellow squash recipes. This sauteed Italian seasoned squash is both tasty and healthy.

For 4 servings you need:

  • 1 small white squash, scalloped 
  • 1 zucchini 
  • 1 yellow squash 
  • 1/2 white onion 
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil 
  • 3/4 Tablespoons Italian seasoning 
  • 1/2 Tablespoons garlic salt 
  • 1/4 Tablespoons coarse ground pepper

First, you need to cut the white squash into quarters, and then again into 1/4-inch thick slices or wedges. 

Also, you should slice zucchini and yellow squash diagonally into 1/4-inch thick rounds and then cut rounds in half. 

When it comes to the onion, cut it into thin wedges.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add oil to a hot skillet. 

Then, sauté white squash and onion together for 2 minutes.

After that, add zucchini, yellow squash, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, and pepper.

Sauté for another 5 minutes, and it’s done.

And it’s important to serve immediately and eat this mouth-watering dish right away.

Baked yellow squash recipe - The Proud Italian

4. Baked yellow squash recipe

So much squash, so little time! If you are in the mood for a quality baked squash, you should try our baked yellow squash recipe.

It’s super-filling, and when you try it, it will probably become your go-to veggies recipe. 

Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 pounds summer squash 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Heat oven to 350 F. Remove the stem ends of the squash and slice thinly using a mandolin attachment to your food processor, or you could use a sharp knife. 

Then mix sliced squash in a bowl with olive oil.

In another small bowl, mix parmesan, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. 

Next, place the squash in a 9×12 inch casserole, sprinkle it with bread crumb mixture, and cover with foil. 

Leave it to bake for 40 minutes. 

Then, remove foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until bread crumbs look toasted.

You can enjoy it with grilled fish, chicken, or steak. 

Acorn squash soup - The Proud Italian

5. Acorn squash soup with turmeric

Well, no list of recipes is complete without a flavourful soup. This no-fuss soup is as healthy as it is appetizing.

For our soup recommendation, you will need:

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded or diced carrot
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ apple, diced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 14 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1½ cups water
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • ¼ tablespoon pepper

First, cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds. 

Then, roast in a baking pan for 30 to 40 minutes at 400ºF, have in mind that the flesh needs to be soft.

You should heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a dutch oven.

Also, add carrots and onions and saute them for 4 minutes.

After that, add squash flesh, apple, ginger, turmeric, coconut milk, water and salt, and pepper. 

You should then stir and bring to a boil. When you bring to a boil, you need to reduce heat and simmer, and to leave it covered for 10 minutes.

Puree soup with an immersion blender, or you can put in your Vitamix. Be careful not to burn yourself.

At last, serve with pepitas, scallions, and parsley. 

Acorn squash - The Proud Italian

Takeaway

If you’re trying to stay healthy this season, make Italian squash your signature dish.

No matter if it’s fall, winter, spring, or summer, you can count on at least one yummy type of squash to be in season.