It was in April 2011, while visiting Preston Market that I first met this handsome vegetable. An Italian farmer was selling autumn seedlings and he had a few mature Trombocinos on display. I remember walking around and around wondering what the heck I was looking at. “Trombocino, signora” the man said in his loud and beautiful tenor voice. “Trombocino…”, I repeated. “What are they? Can you eat them?” The farmer replied, “oh yes, they are delicious like butternut pumpkin. When they are young and green we call them Zucchetta, but when they mature and turn a gold colour they are called Trombocino”. I wanted to buy one to take home, but he refused my money. He very kindly gifted me the biggest and best looking Trombocino to take home and enjoy. It wasn’t straight, but beautifully and artfully curved like a trombone.
When I got home, I was thrilled to cut it up and discover that more than one meter of it was all flesh. It felt like I had won the lotto! All the seeds were in the bulb like end. I saved all these seeds, dried them in the sun and kept them until the following September. I have been growing trombocinos every year ever since.
When matured Trombocino is similar to butternut pumpkin, but it has a much milder taste. I have only used it to make soups and have also combined other orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin with it for taste. Trombocino acts as a filler and one of these exotic looking veggies can easily make ten or more serves of ‘pumpkin’ soup.
Growing trombocino is one of the easiest veggies to grow in the garden. They love to climb and if a fruit sets at a good height, it will grow straight and can be very long. The longest trombocino I have grown was more than two metres. If they don’t have a trellis to climb on, the fruit will curve like a free form artistic sculpture. They are such a sight to behold.
If you decide to plant one, the best time to get started is in spring or early summer. Remember to give them plenty of height or room to grow. If you want them to grow in random curves, don’t use a trellis. If you like your veggies straight, then give them a nice tall trellis to climb on. The longer and the warmer the nights, the faster they will spread and there is no stopping them. They are prolific too. This year, from just three seeds, I have at least 15 fruits and no two are alike.
Give this Italian treasure a go next season. You will have weeks and months to marvel at their uniqueness and beauty as they develop and grow. They are definitely a great veggie to share with your family and friends.
Cooking with love… from Duang