One of the great frivolous foods of summer is, without doubt, the summer squash. Usually a dime a dozen, the courgette is fantastic prepared in just about any way a summer’s feast can be expressed and indulged upon. At Aspen Moon Farm, we purposefully grow just one variety of zucchini squash, and one which is considered quite a gourmand’s delight, the Costata Romanesco (curcurbita pepo).
An Italian heirloom, this squash is similar to the Cocozelle, and is otherwise referred to as the Roman ribbed zucchini. True to its name, the Costata produces ribbed fruits that are distinctively long with pronounced ridges on the exterior. Although this squash is notorious for its exquisite flavor when picked at 6 inches of length or smaller and fried with its blossom attached, it is also still delightful when harvested at up to 20 inches in length. With a nutty flavor and many fewer seeds than its’ counterparts, this squash is a delight to cook with.
Like most other summer squash plants, the Costata loves warm weather, germinates best at 70 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors, and reaches maturity in just over 50 days. It enjoys full sun with moderate watering and can be an easy to grow plant for beginning gardeners. At Aspen Moon, we have our costatas and other summer squash (yellow crookneck, scallopini, and patty pan) planted within close proximity to our other summer fruits – tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and cucumbers. They are planted in a newly cultivated field for us, one which we have found retains considerable moisture in the soil as a result of neighboring irrigation, and still the plants continue to thrive.
The Costata Romanesco is great used in any of these squash-centric recipe ideas:
Zucchini “Pasta”: Very thinly sliced zucchini squash tossed in basil vinaigrette
Zucchini Boats: Slice squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Stuff with mixture of sweet corn, ricotta cheese, and chilies. Bake until heated through.
Zucchini Three Ways: Zucchini squash soup with goat cheese stuffed squash blossom and grilled zucchini medallions.
Zucchini Bread: Don’t forget it!! It can be made and frozen for weeks.
The zucchini squash is one of those few vegetables that you can pickle or ferment, but really cannot “preserve” in its “natural” status for the winter months. That being said, enjoy it gluttonously and revel in its’ simplicity, but do not take it for granted, as it will be eleven more moons before its’ season is upon us again.