This summer, as always my zucchini plants have been producing more fruit than any of us (including the chickens) can handle. I love zucchini, either raw in salads, scorched over the bbq or tossed into curries and soups. But there are only ever so many one can eat, and a single day’s inattentiveness in the garden results in giant and largely useless marrow-beasts. You can’t even give these things away. So we eat our fill, preserve a few, and toss the rest to the chooks, and finally in desperation, the worms.
Elsewhere in the food garden my Tromboncini squash (kindly supplied by food writer Lisa Loveday) have performed superbly. Looking more than a little like vegetable trombones, I’m assured on Lisa’s very good authority that they taste like butternut squash, only sweeter. They’re still a week or so away from what I assume will be perfection,but I’ll let you know. It’s no weather for roasts or soup right now anyway. Being a ‘winter squash’ they will supposedly store well for months, which considering their size and our modest appetites is another strong selling point.
In their native Italy, tromboncino are eaten at two stages: small and tender, when they’re like meaty and flavoursome zucchini; and as a pumpkin when they’re fully mature. The vines like nothing better than climbing trees, fences or drain pipes and are about the toughest, most rampant member of the pumpkin clan I’ve come across yet. Despite having produced half a dozen stonking-great fruit, my plants grow on unchecked and are pushing out female flowers with wild abandon.
Other squash and cucumbers planted at the same time renounced their femininity and vigour some weeks back, and are now begrudgingly clinging to life with only the occasional flourish of useless masculinity. Although I like the idea of stuffed and/or battered squash flowers, I think they’re rather overrated. Yes they’re delicious, but no more than a deep fried lettuce leaf given the same treatment I suspect. What little flavour these flowers actually offer probably comes from the inevitable insect stowaways.
Meanwhile, as my trombincini harvest piles up, I see a winter of soups, roasts, gnocchi, ravioli and… baby food. Babies like pumpkin, don’t they?
Tromboncini seeds or ‘Zucchini Rampicante’ are available from Kings Seeds Ltd