Zucchini: Costata Romanesca

One of the many indicators of our cooler than normal summer is that zucchini production is slower than usual. Instead of reaching club size overnight, this year’s zucchini stay on the vine for several days before becoming too big to eat.

I wouldn’t mind this zucchini slow-down except that for the past few years I’ve grown Costata Romanesca, a variety I’ve really come to like.  Before finding Costata, I’d grow a couple of zucchini plants each year, usually Raven or a similar smooth dark green zucchini, to fill the gap between the end of sugar snap peas and the start of green beans.  After the green beans began producing, I’d pretty much ignore ripening zucchini or try to give them away.

But then I read the Costata Romanesca description in the Fedco Catalog: “‘the only summer squash worth bothering with, unless you’re just thirsty.’ Deeply striped and ribbed, Costata resembles Cocozelle, with a distinctive sweet mildly nutty flavor.”  It’s true.  The flavor is great and the texture is firm enough to stand up to sautéing, grilling or roasting without dissolving.  Now instead of ignoring them I look for new recipes that feature them.

One I found last year is unusual, delicious and very easy, and I’ve returned to it more than any other this year too.  Here’s the link to the full recipe from Food and Wine, August 2010: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/roasted-zucchini-with-ricotta-and-mint.   And here’s a summary: After cutting the zucchini into half-inch cubes, spread them on cookie sheets, brush them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast them in a 450 oven for 18 minutes.  Then take them out of the oven, sprinkle with red pepper flakes, cumin and fennel seeds and return them to the oven to roast for two or three more minutes. The fragrance of the toasted seeds is lovely.  Serve as is as a side dish, use a pasta sauce or frittata filling, or turn into a salad with lemon juice, mint and feta cheese.

A more complicated zucchini dish that our friend Nancy has been making every summer since 2005 when she saw the recipe in the Seattle P-I is Kabak Mucveri, Turkish-inspired patties made of grated zucchini and herbs held together with flour, egg and feta cheese and lightly fried.  Here’s the link to the recipe: http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/Good-Enough-To-Eat-This-dish-will-make-you-look-1182932.php  They are wonderful on their own or in pita bread.  And my favorite Costata Romanesca is particularly suited to grating.

I’m sure other gardeners have their favorite zucchini.  My sister Sarah’s is Clarimore. What is yours?