Alloronan has a pretty impressive veggie patch. She planted out a variety of summer vegetables, but perhaps her most prolific plants were the accidental ones. The tomato harvest after moving the compost heap was great. She got a jap pumpkin and a very nice rockmelon from the same source. Strangely though, the most mysterious vegetable wasn’t a child of the compost. It was a ring-in which grew from a perfectly ordinary packet of zucchini seeds. All its siblings grew into regular black zucchinis. This seed grew up to produce a mystery vegetable. At first we thought it was a butternut pumpkin. That was until we opened it. Then we discovered it was not a pumpkin at all. The flesh is pale green like a honey dew and the middle is soft and full of seeds like zucchini. The Rural Artist thinks it might be a gramma. I wonder if it is one of the parents the seed companies use to make their hybrid plants. It’s hard to imagine it as a parent to a zucchini though.
In spite of the vegetable being a mystery, I was determined to eat it. It seems that American’s refer to everything from zucchini to pumpkins as squash. That should mean you can cook them all in much the same way. You can stuff and bake zucchinis, squash or pumpkin. I decided that was what I would do with our mystery vegetable. It was very easy to hollow out, more like a zucchini than a pumpkin. I pre-baked the shells for a while to soften them. In the meantime I fried the innards with onion and olives. I added silverbeet, pine nuts, fresh basil and fetta to the mix. When the vegetable shells were soft I filled them and baked them for a little longer.
The result was a very pleasant Mediterranean flavoured stuffed vegetable. The flesh was easy to scoop out from the tough skin. In flavour it was not at all like a pumpkin, but tasted pretty similar to a zucchini or a button squash. I think you could stuff any of these vegetables with a spinach, fetta and olive filling quite successfully. Mystery vegetables on the other hand are a rare treat.
If anyone has seen one of these vegetables before let me know what you think it is. I’ve done a little research into grammas now, and I think it refers to more than a single vegetable. I had heard of grammas before and I knew that they were a type of pumpkin that could be used to make gramma pie (which is sweet like pumpkin pie). Interestingly my googling mostly brought up Australian sites. On hearing this James immediately sent me to the Macquarie Dictionary (subscription required) which defines gramma:
noun NSW a type of pumpkin, Cucurbita moschata, the fruit of which is elongated and has an orange flesh and skin.
It is interesting that they think the term is regionalised to NSW, especially since the best information I have found so far is from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries. They have a fact sheet on the commercial production of pumpkins and grammas. They say that the things we call pumpkins come from two species, Cucurbita maxima (pumpkins) and Cucurbita moschata (grammas). Jarrahdales and Queensland Blues are pumpkins while Butternuts and Japs are grammas. Grammas seem to grow on a smaller plant and have a shorter storage period. Apparently the two species will cross-pollinate readily with each other but not with other cucurbits (e.g. melons, cucumbers and zucchini).
That pretty well satisfies my curiosity on grammas, except for the pertinent question of what a gramma pie tastes like.