Here's a "zucchini" for those that hate the taste of traditional zucchini.
I have to admit that traditional green zucchini is not my favorite vegetable; it's not that I won't eat zucchini when it's presented to me on a plate, but given the choice, I go for other fare. For this reason, we generally forgo planting traditional zucchini in favor of a hybrid patty pan variety called Sunburst. (available from Burpee Seed Company)
However, this year, I decided to try a new type of summer squash called Zucchino Rampicante. It's a crookneck variety so it is visually very interesting -- a very long, slender neck with a bulbous end.
I planted Zucchino Rampicante in late April, and we harvested our first batch this last weekend. After tasting this variety, I have to say it is now high on my "recommended" list. Despite its name, this squash does not taste like "zucchini." To my palate, the flavor is much closer to acorn or butternut squash.
When harvested, the fruit is quite firm to the touch and I was convinced it would take a long time to cook. But we decided to try grilling it on the barbecue and the squash was cooked perfectly after just 10 minutes.
Zucchino Rampicante has a few other characteristics that are worth mentioning:
- Like other summer squash, it's easy to grow and very prolific.
- Unlike other summer squash, it's both a summer and a winter variety. That's right -- You can harvest the squash in about 65 days and eat it like a summer variety, or let it mature for another 35 days and harvest it as a winter variety. As a winter vegetable, the color changes from a variegated green to an orange brown that is similar to the color of a butternut squash. So far, I've only tasted it as a summer veggie, but I anticipate enjoying it as a winter crop based on this first test. Even if I decide other winter varieties are better, zucchino rampicante will stay on my grow list because it produces a winter squash flavor in a summer variety.
- Zucchino Rampicante is almost seedless (at least as a summer veggie), with no seeds in the neck, and only delicate seeds in the body which do not require removal prior to eating.
- Finally, it's an open pollinated variety, so you can save the seeds if that floats your boat
If you decide to try this variety, there's probably still enough time in the growing season to get both summer and winter fruit. Seeds can be purchased from Baker Creek or other online merchants.