That my friends is a gagootz, oh and that beautiful man holding it, that’s my fiancé (I know, I’m a lucky girl). A gagootz is an heirloom Italian zuccini. My fiancé found it on a recent trip to a farm stand we frequent and he just had to buy it and make me try to figure out how to cook it. Challenge accepted! I asked the owner how I was supposed to prepare it and he said “I have a good friend who is a chef in the city, he said to cut it up and sauté it with all of the veggies you have and cook the shit out of it”. Ah okay, great.
So that night we had a barbecue and I cut it up (using a serrated knife all the other knives I tried didn’t work) and then brushed it with olive oil, salt and pepper and put it on the grill. It came out okay but the skin was definitely too tough to eat and the middle tasted a little like a cucumber, not too much flavor.
I also tried making an Italian veggie dish with the gagootz inspired by the veggies I already had on hand. I added tricolor carrots, onions, garlic, garbanzo beans, kale, tomatoes, and leeks. It should have tasted great, or so I thought.
I’m sharing this with you even though it is certainly not my best dish because I want to inspire you to experiment. I am a concoction queen, I usually just add whatever we have in the fridge in different combinations. That’s how I come up with most of my recipes and find out about the best flavor balances, and also, like in this case, find out what not to do again. Fail, but try and try again, that’s how you become a great cook and get over your fears in the kitchen!
Here are the tips I learned along the way, hopefully you can learn from my mistakes if you try the gagootz or any other new vegetable!
Make sure you remove the skin of the gagootz, it doesn’t matter how thin you cut it, or how long you cook it for, it is not edible. The insides have a lot of water in them like a cucumber so there wound up being a lot of liquid in the bottom of the pan and all that was really left was the outside, the flesh all but cooked off. Also, the seeds are big and will not taste good if you leave them in there. I found that once I cooked the gagootz with all the rest of the veggies the whole concoction took on a slightly pickled flavor. Okay if you like pickles, not so much if you don’t, I don’t. Altogether an interesting but somewhat failed experiment. Przemek agrees.
If anyone else has ever tried cooking with this particular vegetable with more success I’d love to hear about it. It was fun trying out new recipes that included an heirloom vegetable I had never heard of before. Although I may not be adding the gagootz to my weekly shopping list anytime soon, I’m always up for making a concoction in the kitchen, it’s how you learn, some turn out awesome, some, not so much.
What dishes have you tried that haven’t really turned out as expected? What will you do differently next time? Please share in the comments section below!