Seasonal Italian Garden Vegetables

Chirping birds, budding tulips, and beaming smiles; spring is finally here and your farmer’s market is most likely brimming with delicious spring vegetables.

If you’re looking to add a little bit of Italy to your garden bed, look no further than these delicious, seasonal vegetables. Versatile, fresh, and full of delicious nutrients, these beloved Italian veggies will transform any of your meals into something truly special!

Eggplant

eggplant-1344610
Eggplant

This plump vegetable is as delicious as it is versatile! The Italian variety, otherwise known as melanzana was first introduced in the southern regions, but quickly began to influence other regional cuisines. Its porous texture allows it to absorb flavors and liquids, like in a simple grilled eggplant with olive oil, or fried eggplant with parmesan!

Gardening tip: You’ll want to plant your eggplant seeds indoors about 6 weeks before your last spring frost.

 

Cucuzza

Cucuzza
Cucuzza

This lengthy squash (it can sometimes grow to be 3 – 4 feet!) is a favorite in Sicilian cuisine and is undoubtedly an Italian garden staple. Often the seeds of a cucuzza plant are passed down from generation to generation and are typically kept within families, so be sure to ask your Italian friends nicely for a handful. Like most other squashes, it is best to peel the skin of the cucuzza before cooking, using the squash’s mild, earthy flavor to whip up an awesome stir fry or a delicious traditional stew!

Gardening tip: These seeds grow very easily when using a trellis and are best planted when all signs of winter frost have passed.

Watch our Palermo video to see cucuzza and other Sicilian farmer’s market favorites!

Fava Bean

Fresh broad beans
Fresh fava beans

A southern Italian favorite, the fava bean is a staple in spring cooking! These beloved beans are a large part of the St. Joseph’s day celebrations in Sicily, as this vegetable was thought to be the crop that saved Sicily from starvation after a long drought. Today it is often prepared to honor the Patron St. Joseph, both as an altar offering, and in traditional soups such as Maccu Di San Giuseppe!

Gardening tip: Fava beans are a “cool season” crop, meaning that it grows best in temperate climates. Plant these seeds in early spring and in 4-5 months you’ll have your own batch of delicious beans!

Artichoke

artichoke
Artichoke with Lemon

April is the best time to harvest delicious artichokes! All over Italy this month, the coveted artichoke is being picked and prepared. These bulbous buds, domesticated in Sicily, thrive in temperate to warm climates and were thought to be a favorite of the ancient gods. The artichoke season is surprisingly brief, so this time of year you can expect to see most Italian restaurants highlighting these delicious treats on their menus, like Carciofi Alla Romana (Roman-style artichoke).

Gardening tip: The artichoke can be a tricky plant to grow, but they are often worth the time and effort. They tend to grow best in Mediterranean climates. Germinate these seeds indoors about 3 – 4 weeks before your last suspected frost date and plant according to the changes in your local climate.