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Zucchini and Eggs - A simple, delicious, classic Italian dish that our family called Cocozelle - named after the heirloom zucchini variety.

Hello everyone. This is Jack and I’m honored to share the story behind this recipe for Zucchini and Eggs – or as my Italian family called it Cocozelle.

Zucchini and Eggs is a simple, classic Italian dish and it is often served for breakfast or dinner when summertime’s garden zucchini is plentiful.

Looking around in cookbooks and online – there are many slang names for this delicious dish.  Each Italian family seems to have their own name for it like ‘gagoots’ or ‘gagooch’ – and often times the name of the recipe is simply someone’s interpretation of an Italian word spoken by a relative in the family who came from ‘the old country.’

Zucchini and Eggs - A simple, delicious, classic Italian dish that our family called Cocozelle - named after the heirloom zucchini variety.

When I was growing up, this zucchini and eggs dish was called Cocozelle (pronounced koo-ka-zeel). Initially, I didn’t know how my parents spelled the name of this recipe – but then my father (aka Grampa) pulled out a seed pack from a drawer and showed me the picture on the front of the package.

Cocozelle is actually a striped, heirloom variety of zucchini – that we just happened to be growing in our own garden this summer! After doing more research, we discovered that the official name is Cocozella di Napoli and the small, baby-sized squash are considered a delicacy in Naples, Italy. It is regarded as one of the best zucchini varieties to cook with because of its low moisture content and rich but mild flavor.

Zucchini and Eggs - A simple, delicious, classic Italian dish that our family called Cocozelle - named after the heirloom zucchini variety.

Regardless of what you call this fantastic dish – I have extremely fond memories of my Aunt Mary making zucchini and eggs. I often raced over to her house on my bike when I knew she was making this – and all these years later, I still remember her kitchen and the flavors of this dish like it was yesterday.

I love this dish, and I hope you will too.

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Zucchini and Eggs {Cocozelle}

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ cups large diced onion
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium clove of garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 ½ pounds fresh zucchini cut into one inch quarter rounds (if possible get the cocozelle which has light stripes running along the squash and has a more delicate flavor and thinner skin)
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2½ tablespoons milk (use whole milk if possible but not crucial)


  1. In a large sauté pan, melt butter in oil over medium heat and add onions, salt and pepper. Cook for about ten minutes and add garlic. Cook for another five to ten minutes or until onions are nice and browned and caramelized. Remove onions to a bowl but leave fat in the pan.
  2. Add zucchini and sauté over medium high for about five minutes or until tender.
  3. While zucchini is cooking, mix eggs with milk and set aside.
  4. Once zucchini finishes cooking, add onions back in, reduce to medium and add egg mixture.
  5. Turn with a spatula or wooden spoon and cook just until the eggs are scrambled.
  6. Taste for salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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Zucchini and Eggs - A simple, delicious, classic Italian dish that our family called Cocozelle - named after the heirloom zucchini variety.

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  • Debbie Burke wrote:

    Exactly the recipes I was looking for to make “cagoots.” I could come up with the flavor, but not the word until I read it in your article. And I could picture my grandmother’s cousin, Tony, coming with fresh squash from his garden, tomatoes, and gorgeous Swiss chard wrapped like a bouquet of flowers. That’s what’s for dinner tonight.

    • Martha wrote:

      We hope our version is just as delicious as the recipe you remember Debbie!

  • Chris Gurchik wrote:

    Hi. My mom made what we called cocozelle too. But she added a jar of her home made crushed tomatoes tomatoes with basil and she poached the the eggs in it. Thanks for posting the recipe. I haven’t had it for many years. She was from a small town east of Salerno called Buccino.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Chris – that sounds like Eggs in Purgatory! Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • Dee wrote:

    To add zing to this dish my mom added grated cheese into the scrambled eggs, also she added a dash of powdered chicken bullion, a dash of tarragon and a dash of red pepper flakes to the zucchini and onions while they’re cooking. As a kid my mom would make this and I still make it for myself its so yummy and quick in small batches perfect for lunch or dinner.

    • Martha wrote:

      Great suggestions Dee!

  • Sharon wrote:

    Another delicious recipe! Thanks for sharing your love of food with us!

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Sharon! So glad you enjoyed this recipe! 🙂

  • Celeste Freeman wrote:

    I have been making this for years, as my Italian grandmother always made “zucchini and eggs”. I never knew the official name though, but I’m sure she did as she came here from Sorrento as a young girl. I love adding a “handful” of Parmesan at the end (no measuring cups when it comes to my grandmother’s recipes!). Thank you for putting this amazing recipe in writing!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Celeste – We hope our version of the recipe is as delicious as your grandmother’s!

  • Marise wrote:

    My grandmother made this, and would bring us a container of it. We’d make cold sandwiches on toast. I have tried to recreate it many times, unsuccessfully. Hoping this is it!

    By the way, when talking to other Italians, they didn’t know what I was talking about when I called it Coczelle, (we actually pronounced it Googoozeele)

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Marise – We hope this is close to your grandmother’s recipe! 🙂

  • Kristin wrote:

    So simple yet such a nice and tasty way to add zucchini into your meals. Try it with a handful of chiffonade of basil at the end! Adds an incredible layer of freshness!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Kristin!

  • Cattz wrote:

    To finish off the abundance of zucchini I received, my mother suggested I cook them up for breakfast into her favorite dish, Cocozelle. Of course, she didn’t know the name of this dish…she only knew that her mother would make it for an old family friend who had immigrated from “the old country” and to this day she still loves Italian Scrambled Eggs & Zucchini. I couldn’t help myself…I added sun dried tomatoes and thyme as it cooked and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese at the end. MmmmMmm…..

    • Martha wrote:

      We love your additions to the recipe Cattz! Great idea!

  • Lauren wrote:

    My nana always made coo-git-zeel and for a long time my mom and I have been trying to figure out if this was an Italian recipe or something she made up. I went to Italy and asked about it there but they didn’t know and then I looked up zucchini and eggs and found your recipe and pronunciation which is so close to what we have been saying. I live in Boston too (though not originally (NY)).

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Lauren – We can totally relate to your story! (We wondered if the name of this dish was something my in-laws made up too!) Hope this is as delicious as your nana’s!

  • Sarah Walker Caron (Sarah’s Cucina Bella) wrote:

    I love your fond memory of your aunt making this dish. Sounds interesting — I have never had anything like it before. Will have to give it a try!

  • Anita wrote:

    I’ve never heard of this dish but what a fab way to use up all the zucchini from the garden!

  • heather | girlichef wrote:

    I love how simple and delicious this meal is. I have everything to make it, and I think it’s going to be breakfast tomorrow!

  • Marjory @ Dinner-Mom wrote:

    I love zucchini…and eggs…but, I’ve never tried them together quite like this! Sounds delicious!

  • Paula – bell’alimento wrote:

    I’ve never had that type of zucchini! Will have to look out for it.

  • Erin @ Texanerin Baking wrote:

    Gagoots. I love it. 😀 And Cocozelle is new to me! My husband loves zucchini so I’ll be on the lookout for it.

  • The Food Hunter wrote:

    zucchini and eggs is a childhood favorite of mine!

  • Stephanie @Back for Seconds wrote:

    I have never had this before but it looks delicious!!

  • Lauren Kelly Nutrition wrote:

    I have never heard of this before but it is right up my alley! I can’t wait to make this!

  • Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes wrote:

    I am Italian and can’t believe I have never heard of this dish before! What a wonderful combination (oh, and pretty too!)

  • I love it! It’s like a deconstructed frittata!

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