Summer Week 10: An Edible Trip to Italy

Ferny Finocchio in the field.

THIS WEEK’S SUBSCRIBER MENU:
• Romano Beans, or Green Snap Beans
• Big, Beautiful Lettuce
• Torpedo Onions (Rossa Lunga di Tropea)
• Zucchini and/or Summer Squash
Fennel
• Carrots
• Thyme

Click on the links above for information and recipes about these crops.

COMING SOON:
Green Beans
Purslane
Cucumbers
Basil
Fennel

Gotcha! No we haven’t been to Italy, but this week’s selection of produce is largely Italian. The ferny Fennel, or Finocchio, the beautiful Rossa di Tropea (Red of Tropea) onions, and the genuine Italian Romano Beans—seed direct from Italy—are all Italian heirloom vegetables. If only the basil had been big enough this week. Soon, though, soon.

Sparkling Red Torpedo Onions. Seed from Tropea in Florence, Italy.

First, check out the Fennel page. There is a link to it above and to the right. Red Torpedo onions are not quite as sweet as a Walla Walla, but they are not as hot as a red onion. They are quite delicious. And the Romano beans do NOT need to be shelled. They are a snap bean, just like the American green beans, but they do need an extra minute or two to cook, just because they are bigger. They cook up tender, and delicious—more flavorful than the standard green bean.

I like to cut them into 1″ or 2″ sections and sauté them with onion or garlic in olive oil. Then we eat them as a side dish, or on top of pasta. The other night I got into the kitchen to make dinner after 9:00, and I sautéed some garlic, a bunch of Romano beans, and some sliced zucchini. After the vegetables were tender, I splashed some thick balsamic vinegar in. Had it on pasta and put lots of Pecorino on top. Quick and easy.

Honeybee in a Bachelor Button Blossom.

I’ve always watched and been fascinated by bees. More so this year, though, since we got our own honeybees. There seem to be many  more bumblebees than usual. I don’t know if it’s better observation, or reality. I’ve noticed that the bumblebees definitely prefer certain flowers—white clover, for one, and beans, pumpkins, zucchini, and cucumbers. It turns out that honeybees don’t really get much from those giant flowers, as far as colony-building is concerned. They prefer alfalfa, sweet clover, and berries. Although, they are fond of Bachelor Buttons.

Honeybees don't get much from squash and pumpkin flowers, but the bumblebees seem to thrive on them. Here's a bumblebee swimming in a pumpkin blossom.

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