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Lunga Di Napoli Squash
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Lunga di Napoli squash have a large, oblong shape with a slightly bulbous end that includes the squash’s seed cavity. Its exterior skin ripens from yellow to dark green, with orange or light green striations. The inner flesh is a deep, vibrant orange and surrounds a small, stringy seed cavity. The cooked flesh of the Lunga di Napoli is smooth and dry offering a mild, slightly sweet squash flavor. Lunga di Napoli are most often compared to the butternut squash, although this squash tends to be larger in size than a butternut and can weigh on average between twenty and thirty-five pounds when fully mature.
Lunga di Napoli squash are available in the fall and winter months.
Lunga di Napoli squash, botanically classified as part of Cucurbita moschata, is also known as Piena di Napoli, Courge Pleine d’Alger, Long of Naples, and Courge Pleine di Naples. This Italian heirloom winter squash variety is part of what has come to be known as the neck group of squashes which contains squash with elongated necks such as butternut, crookneck, and Tahitian. Lunga di Napoli translated means "Long of Naples", aptly named as the squash can reach two feet in length.
Orange-fleshed squashes such as the Lunga de Napoli are known for their high content of beta-carotene, a nutrient that is also responsible for the color of their flesh.
The Lunga di Napoli squash is a hard, winter squash variety and so when fully mature should always be cooked prior to eating. Sliced in half or into chunks, it can be roasted, steamed, braised, boiled or baked. The skin of the squash can be removed and discarded either before cooking or after. Cooked squash can be pureed and added to soups, curry, pies, preserves, quick bread, gnocchi, ravioli, and sauces. Lunga di Napoli squash can be cubed, cooked and added to risottos, pasta, pizza, casseroles and empanadas. It's sweet squash flavor marries well with white beans, sage, mint, parsley, chard, kale, eggplant, pear, tomato, celery, shallot, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, vinegar, chili pepper and olive oil. An excellent keeper store Lunga di Napoli squash in a cool, dry, dark place and use within a month.
Lunga di Napoli squash has long been a popular squash variety in their native Italy, specifically in the southern region. In Campania, Sicily, and Puglia it is used in a regional soup of chili pepper, eggplant, tomato, pears and plums known as cianfotta or giambotta. It is also popularly served fried, chilled and served scapece style dressed in vinegar, oil, garlic, mint, and sugar in Sicily or chili in Campania. The seeds additionally are a popular snack food throughout Italy, served simply toasted and salted.
Lunga di Napoli squash has long been a common squash in Italy and the Mediterranean region. Mention of it can be found dating back to 1856 in Vilmorin’s classic illustrated album of French garden vegetables, The Vegetable Garden. The Lunga di Napoli squash is believed to have first appeared in an American seed catalog in 1863 listed by Fearing Burr. Though it has never caught on as a commercially viable squash variety in the United States, it has found popularity among home growers and competitive growers as a result of its ability to grow to massive sizes. Lunga di Napoli squash thrives in warm growing conditions and should be planted after the last frost has passed in the spring and harvested before the first frost of the fall or winter. Typically squash are ready for harvest within one hundred days of planting.