Here are a few heirloom seed choices that will inspire your inner Italian. We call them the Italian Underground because they are slightly off the typical gardener’s radar. You can find them on various internet sites for ordering.
- Ligurian Basil from Portofino. Thick, aromatic bright green leaves. Suited to pots. Traditionally used to make Pesto Genovese.
- Melenzana Eggplant Violet of Florence. A large, violet to pink, round fruit with ribbing. Beautiful to look at as well as eat. Perfect for stuffing.
- Peperocini Ciliegia Piccante . A medium hot round cherry chili pepper. It looses about 60% of its heat when cooked making it great stuffed with mozzarella or grilled. A great addition to a plate of antipasti, pickled or in salads.
- Fava Bean delle Cascine. Farmhouse style fava favored by Italian chefs who insist it to be more tender than other favas.
- Zucchini San Pasquale. Ribbed with dark/light green stripes. Excellent taste and good flower production for stuffed zucchini blossoms.
- Mixed Swiss Chard. Ruby red, yellow and orange stem chard perfect sautéed in olive oil and garlic.
- Fennel Mantovano. Large rounded head. Very white bulb and deep green stalks. Full of crunch. Nice sweet flavor with stronger anise overtones than most varieties.
- Prezzemolo Gigante Parsley Giant of Naples. Very large flat-leaf variety from Naples with incredible flavor. Dark-green leaves regrow after cutting (hence the name prezzemolo, which means “to turn up everywhere”).