Which Zucchini Should I Grow?

11507590-d52c-4832-8f8f-810762ae729f.jpgWhich zucchini should you grow?

Zucchini is an essential item on the summer menu. They can be grilled, sautéed, stuffed, deep fried, and grated for cakes and muffins. They can be pickled or just eaten raw. Zucchini are so popular in Italian cuisine that almost every region of Italy has a favorite variety. We carry 23 varieties, something for every regional specialty dish. Here are some factors to consider when choosing which to grow:

1. Plant size. Most heirloom zucchini varieties are big, sprawling plants. If you have a small amount of space to devote to zukes, choose a bush variety: Custard White, Nero di Milano, or Novodiamant.

2. Fruit shape. Most zucchini are long and slender, which makes them good for slicing lengthwise for the grill or crosswise for salads and sautés. Some are round like baseballs— Tondo di Piacenza and Tondo di Nizza — which makes them perfect for stuffing. Or go halfway with Bolognese, which has short, thick fruit.

3. Ribbing. If you like them smooth, try Genovese. If you like them heavily ribbed (which makes for interestingly shaped slices), try Romanesco. If you like them in between, try Striato d’Italia (photo at right by @backyardfoodie) or Verde d’Italia.

4. Flowers. If you want to grow squash exclusively for squash blossoms, try da Fiore, San Pasquale or Albarello sel. Valery, varieties selected for their high proportion of flowers. (If you don’t pick all the flowers, you will get some squash.) If you want both blossoms and a good zucchini, try Lunga Fiorentino.

5. Pest problems. If your zucchini plants are usually plagued by cucumber beetles or squash bugs, try growing a Zuchetta, which is a different species (Cucurbita moschata) and more resistant to pests. We have Tromba d’Albenga and Rugosa Friulana. Picked young, these two zuchettas have similar taste and texture to zucchini.

Courtesy of Seeds of Italy