Garden of Eatin' / Vegetables

Zucchino Rampicante

Zucchino Rampicante

Out of all the crops I grew in my garden this summer, only one elicited more curious eyebrows and caused more whiplash than anything else — my Zucchino Rampicante (Cucurbita moschata), an Italian heirloom zucchini also known as Zucchetta Rampicante or Tromboncino squash.

These prolific specimens are a fascinating oddity, with long, slender, snake-like forms that slither vigorously around vines, trellises, fences, and sometimes each other. They look like crooknecks on steroids, growing up to 4 feet long if left to their own devices. The bulbous ends contain most of the seeds, while the necks are solid and smooth.

My Rampicante foliage is among the more distinctive in the garden, having large, attractive leaves with silvery white variegation along their veins.

Young Zucchetta Rampicante

Young Tromboncino squash

Large variegated leaves on Zucchino Rampicante

True to its name, Rampicante starts out much like any other vining squash — hefty leaves and clusters of orange-yellow blossoms on long, trailing vines — but quickly becomes rampant, sprawling across the ground en masse and sending down new roots at the nodes. It will take over your garden and probably even your neighbor’s garden.

You’ll be very well-fed though — I had two Rampicante plants that produced enough squash to sustain my whole street. Despite being a zucchini, its flavor is less like zucchini and more like butternut squash, to which it is more closely related.

Zucchetta Rampicante

Rampicante is also a rampant climber and can be trellised on very tall, sturdy supports. When the vines are allowed to climb, the zucchini tends to grow long and straight… but that’s no fun!

Rampicante is a unique variety in that it is considered both a summer squash and winter squash. It can be harvested young at any stage, when the skin is striated and lime green in color.

Young Tromboncino squash

Young Zucchino Rampicante

It can also be left to mature on the vine until the skin hardens and turns a solid beige, and treated as a winter squash similar to butternut. When fully ripened at this stage, it will store for long periods of time like any other winter squash.

I harvest my Rampicante at the “small” stage — small being around 2 feet long, with the neck around 2 inches in diameter. The color is just starting to transition from green to beige.

Zucchetta Rampicante

The flavor and texture is said to be sweeter and more tender when it’s still a little green. I liken the taste to that of a very mild squash with slightly nutty tones.

Since the flesh is so dense, it’s perfect for grilling… especially grilling for a party. A big, hungry party! Slice up that 2 or 3-foot long neck into thick rounds, and load ’em up with thick-sliced heirloom tomatoes, pepperoni, capers and herbs, all topped with melted cheese. It’s like pizza, only better.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »

8 Comments

  • Jerry Albright
    October 17, 2021 at 7:22 pm

    My neighbor grew them and took over his whole garden My wife and I just made incredible zucchini bread with them they have an amazing flavor

    Reply
  • Lynn
    September 25, 2021 at 2:29 pm

    Has anyone used them as winter squash? If so, how did you prepare them?

    Reply
  • Kerry Hunt
    November 4, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    I discovered Zucchino Rampicante this year and it’s my new garden favorite. I froze 17 bags with 2 cups each for soups and bread all winter long. I’ve sauteed it fresh for stir fries, soups and more. It’s mild flavor blends extremely well with almost everything.

    Reply
  • Ruth Ann Vokac
    July 19, 2019 at 4:43 am

    I am growing these for the first time and having such fun watching them grow! I picked the first ones a few days ago and strifired them with onions. Very good. I am looking forward to trying a mature one later. Has anyone tried zucchini bread with them? And yes, the vines are lllooooonnnnnggggg! And not a bug in sight, unlike the last two times I tried to grow regular zucchini!

    Reply
    • Linda from Garden Betty
      August 4, 2019 at 11:12 pm

      Yes, I’ve made zucchini bread with all kinds of zucchini. This particular variety happens to stay moist even when it’s mature, so it’s a great use for it.

      Reply
      • Ruth Ann Vokac
        August 6, 2019 at 3:40 am

        Thanks! Will do so soon!!

        Reply
  • Paige Puckett
    October 3, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    I grew these in my garden for the first time this summer. You aren’t kidding – they will take over!

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      October 4, 2011 at 4:32 am

      I still have soooo many left from my big harvest a few weeks ago… and even more still coming on the vines!

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Kerry Hunt Cancel Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.