So everybody knows about zucchini (Italian for "little squash") but hardly anybody knows about zucchetta (also Italian for "little squash") -- which happens to be one of our favorite vegetables to grow. We've never seen it in a store or farmer's market. Think zucchini, except with a pale green skin instead of dark green. I think of it as zucchini 2.0 because it's improved in so many ways over the version we all know and sometimes love.
First, it's prettier than zucchini. Zucchetta is a long squash, and it likes to curl itself into strange shapes if it encounters even the slightest obstacle as it grows.
But on to more substantive advantages. Zucchetta has a slightly firmer texture than zucchini, and it keeps that texture even if you cook it a little too long, never turning to mush the way zucchini can. I think it has a better flavor, a bit nutty. And all the seeds are confined to a two-inch bulbous area at the flower end, leaving the long neck of the fruit totally free of seeds, perfectly white and firm.
Look, Ma, no seeds!!
Zucchetta is fine raw, to put in salad or blend into gazpacho. And it's great cooked because of that firm texture. We like it sauteed as a side (hot or cold) or as an ingredient in panini, slipped into lasagna or baked pasta, or put into soup (it's the pale green vegetable in the title picture at the top of this page).
The only drawback to growing your own zucchetta is that it does like a lot of real estate. We let the long vines grow out onto our driveway, which makes it easier to walk around and see new fruits lurking under the leaves. Also the plant doesn't get muddy when it sits on concrete instead of dirt. Too late for this year, of course, but if you're intrigued by this lovely squash variant, you can order seeds for next year from Pinetree Garden.