They're funny vegetables, these heirloom zucchini from Liguria (trombette, "little trumpets", as they're called around here). Long, thick and twisty, with a large seed bulb at the end, they grow from vines that are very similar to pumpkins. The skin is edible, but thick enough that you can let the plants trail on the ground: the hardy trombette won't suffer. I plant them at the edge of the garden, and let the vines grow and grow. Like zucchini, it's a prolific plant, but, unlike zucchini, one single trombetta is often big enough to feed a family: heirloom zucchini are a gardener's joy to grow.
When cooked, trombette have a mild zucchini-like taste, but keep their firm texture, which makes them perfect for grating, and making a nice pasta sauce. We like them sautéed with garlic and parsley, and often I also add a generous amount of clams (which I buy shelled and frozen).
Now, though making a tasty pasta sauce with one heirloom zucchini is as simple as it sounds, the tricky part is choosing the correct pasta shape. If you were to ask Chef-Francesca, she'd tell you without hesitation "spaghetti". But if you asked Mamma-Francesca, well, she'd give you a different answer, and would recommend a short type of pasta, like fusilli, because in her experience children between 5 and 15 years of age have an uncanny ability to roll up spaghetti on their forks, while leaving all the heirloom zucchini sauce - a big part of the nutrition of the dish - on their plates. Fusilli, on the other hand, do the trick: their spiralling shape is perfect for trapping heirloom zucchini sauce.
Heirloom zucchini with fusilli: from the garden, to the table ... to children's mouth!