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The Local Food Report
As we re-imagine our relationships to what we eat, Local Food Report creator Elspeth Hay takes us to the heart of the local food movement to talk with growers, harvesters, processors, cooks, policy makers and visionaries

Sick of Zucchini? Try the Eight Ball, or Ronde de Nice

Elspeth Hay

Zucchini is the home gardeners' summer squash of choice. But Wellfleet farmer Victoria Pecoraro prefers varieties that stay small. This week on the Local Food Report, Elspeth talks with Victoria about three round summer squash varieties the size of a cue ball, and gets Victoria's recipe for Zucchini Parmesan.

When it comes to summer squash, most people grow crooknecks or zucchini. But Victoria Pecoraro isn’t a fan of varieties that get big. So this year, she decided to grow three small varieties about the size and shape of a cue ball. 

One type is the One Ball. It’s a golden color. It starts out young as a lemon yellow and then it gets deeper golden. Victoria estimates that they’re about 4-6 inches large.

The One Ball is the exact color of a number 1 pool ball, and just slightly bigger. It’s a hybrid developed by a company in Colorado that specializes in breeding cucurbits, or plants in the gourd family. The company has also come up with two other round summer squash varieties—the Cue Ball, which is pale green, and the Eight Ball. The Eight Ball is the green one.

“They say to pair it because it’s just a really interesting visual combination. And these they say go from a golf ball to a cue ball size, and it’s a mottled dark green black fruit. And they’re wicked cute. And the other one I grew, is the Ronde de Nice, which is again, round, and it’s green with white speckling, and they’re from the south of France.”

The Ronde de Nice is an heirloom zucchini, harvested when the fruit is about 3-4 inches around. It’s delicious steamed or sautéed with other veggies, or hollowed out and stuffed. But Victoria’s favorite way to eat all of her summer squash is in a big dish of zucchini Parmesan.

“Oh zucchini Parm oh my God its so good! It’s the same recipe as eggplant Parm and the way we do it the way I was raised is you’ve got your scrambled eggs—the batter—and a little bit of water salt and pepper and the eggs.”

Next you slice the zucchini.

“And you want them on the round, you don’t want the long slices and you put them in flour and you’ve got your frying pan, we fry it, and you throw that in the pan you want it on medium high and you dip the floured zucchini in the egg then you put it in the frying pan and then you just flip them when they’re sort of brown and then you layer with the sauce on the bottom in your little glass pie dish. Sauce, zucchini, sauce, Parmesan cheese, and then you continue layering til you get to the top, and then you’re gonna bake it in the oven.”

The dish is incredibly tasty, and a good way to use up a lot of summer squash. All three of the round squashes Victoria’s growing are supposed to be just as prolific as zucchini.

“Well this is the first time I’ve grown it. I’ve got lots and lots of flowers what I’m noticing this year on all my squash is I’m getting a lot of male flowers.”

This is important because only female flowers produce fruit.

The male flower has a very long, skinny stem. The female flower is very short and close to the center of the plant. It’s directly attached to a little piece of fruit.

The One Ball, the Eight Ball, and the Ronde de Nice are all just starting to go into full production mode. Victoria Pecoraro says the season will go until we get a frost or until the pests and powdery mildew kill the plants—whichever comes first.

You can find the recipe on Elspeth's blog about local food, Diary of a Locavore.


This piece first aired in September, 2013.

An avid locavore, Elspeth lives in Wellfleet and writes a blog about food. Elspeth is constantly exploring the Cape, Islands, and South Coast and all our farmer's markets to find out what's good, what's growing and what to do with it. Her Local Food Report airs Thursdays at 8:30 on Morning Edition and 5:45pm on All Things Considered, as well as Saturday mornings at 9:30.