At this very moment, as I sit at my kitchen table and type this, I am eating a giant bowl of zucchini.
Sounds enticing, doesn’t it?
But this is no ordinary zucchini. This zucchini is curvy, voluptuous, bright, and complex. Her name is Costata Romanesco and I am in love.
It wasn’t love at first sight, though. When I took her out of my CSA box and placed her on the counter, I was confused. She looked like a cross between a deformed cucumber and a bumpy, deflated watermelon. Her skin was rough with thick ridges running from end to end–not an appealing look, even for a summer squash.
With little hope for a future romance, I perused google for a useful recipe. To my surprise, gardeners and food bloggers extolled her virtues far and wide over the tangles of the interwebs. Her buttery texture and nutty flavor are revered, making her superior to all other zucchini varieties. Intrigued, I printed off a recipe in hopes of having some success.
She began to grow on me as I prepared her for the oven. When sliced, she rewarded me with whimsical shapes, a bright white center, and clean, herbacious aromas. The love bubble began to form.
And I’m still in it. I’m holding this bowl tight as the combination of fennel seeds, red pepper, cumin, and mint combine with the light but nutty taste of Costata Romanesco to create unexpected balance and interesting flavors. I believe this is the beginning of a life-long zucchini passion.
Roasted Costata Romanesco Zucchini with Ricotta and Mint
(adapted from Food and Wine)
3 large Costata Romanseco zucchini (about 2 pounds), cut into 3/4 inch dice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
Juice of half a lemon
Fresh ricotta (a couple dollops)
Mint leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread the diced zuchini on a large rimmed baking pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with the salt and black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes until the zucchini is browned a bit (don’t crowd the pan and the zucchini will brown nicely). Remove from oven and sprinkle with red pepper, cumin, and fennel seeds. Roast until fragrant, a couple minutes longer.
Place zucchini in a serving bowl and toss with the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary (I didn’t add any more at this point). Dollop the ricotta alongside and garnish with mint leaves. Fall in love.
So tell me, have you ever fallen in love with a summer vegetable or fruit? How did you cope once the weather cooled and the garden dried up?
Well I’m with you in this love affair. Zucchini was the only veggie we had huge success with last year in our garden. We were overrun with them. I’ve never roasted them before. I love to cut mine up and put it in spaghetti sauce too.
This variety doesn’t produce much fruit so if you planted these you wouldn’t be overrun. She’s so considerate!
Yes! Spaghetti sauce and zucchini are amazing together. If I get more from my CSA I want to stuff them with tomato, sausage and Parmesan. I’m swooning.
My first thought was, “WHAT is that promising white blob on the side?” Ohhhh that looks like heaven in a bowl. I love boring, smooth zucchini (as you might recall in my recent Fitbit pie chart food report), so I can’t imagine how good this would be – “buttery texture and nutty flavor.” YES.
Funny coincidence, the next time I cook you breakfast (that’s what she said), I was planning on making you my “famous” (-Go Jules Go, 2013) farm fresh zucchini omelet.
I thought of you when I wrote this! If you could find this zucchini variety your veggie intake might exceed your vodka intake. She’s that good.
Zucchini in an omelette?? A thousand times yes!! Maybe with ricotta on the side?
I get the zucchini from a local farm stand, and actually put either cream cheese or sour cream INSIDE the omelet, so very similar vibe, and I’m thinking ricotta might be The Next Level. And of course there’s also red onion, garlic and habanero. (But you probably won’t want the latter after Pepper-Off 2013.) Yesss.
CREAM CHEESE??? You don’t even want to know what I’m thinking right now…
And just 1T is enough for a 2-egg omelet. It’s soooo creamy and delicioussssss.
I love goat cheese in an omelet, too. Once had one with smoked salmon, goat cheese, and chives. It was rich, but soooooooo good.
AND? AND? I eat it with ‘everything’ rye, so fennel seeds!
So many squashes out there, I thought I’d met them all by now. But this one is intriguing. Love the shape. Hopefully my CSA will reveal one 🙂
I’d never seen it before, but I’m hoping for more next week! I hear they are easy to grow, even in limited spaces, because they don’t produce a ton of fruit, like regular zucchini (most people are overrun, which is why I don’t grow it). Hope you find some!
It is not wrong to love the zucchini.
I couldn’t help myself…
Sometimes our hearts know more than our heads.
Oh dear, this looks delicious, and I enjoyed reading your post so much! We love zucchini here, but I can’t remember ever seing a similar variety at the market! I could always use the “regular” kind, as your spice mix sounds incredibly delicious, just the kind of stuff I love!
Thanks, Darya! The original recipe was written for regular zucchini so it will work just as well. The peppery, smokey, bright spice mixture MAKES the dish.
The only downside of zucchini is the end of the season when suddenly everyone has millions of them. You have to avoid eye contact or any conversations about what to eat or they hurl 20 of them at you.
Did you know that August 8th is National Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor’s Porch Day? It’s really a thing.
Ha! I did not know that. Must contact HR to see if the office is closed for that important holiday…
Haha. I used to work in HR, so I’m SURE they will let you have the day off. 😉
Ah I love zucchini, but I have never heard of this kind!! I made Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Muffins the other day that were fantastic! I wonder if this type of zucchini would lend well to baking… The recipe is here: http://milesforthought.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/healthy-chocolate-zucchini-muffins-vegan/
I’m sure this zucchini would work for your recipe! It actually seems a bit more “water-filled” than regular zucchini–less dense–so it might work even better.
Ok. I’m posting my home address. I have 2 porches, so plenty of room on which people can sneak their extra zucchini. I’ll be waiting…
I’l be over on August 8th! Have the vodka chilled.
Def want to try to find some! Y friend Erica from Now Entering Flavor Country posted a zucchini jam recipe that’s terrific.
My Summer Love is watermelon although it can’t sing worth a darn – I do the Travolta lines and I get zero response
I have a watermelon salsa recipe that would knock your bobby socks off!
I need to try me some of this particular zucchini. My experiences with that vegetable is that it has the texture and taste of a sponge. I guess that is its strength, though, right? It’s kind of the chameleon of the veggie world.
It does soak up a lot of flavor. I like it in stir fry with lots of hoisin sauce or peanut sauce. This particular variety actually had a nice flavor – nutty and bright.
You zucchini is hot. I assume she isn’t available. Would she be up for a little side action though?
This zucchini and I have been knitted together by the bonds of true love. You’ll have to get your own zucchini.
She is faithful to the end, just like she should be.
Yum! The CSA throws seemingly ugly veggies our way as well, but then blows our minds too once we eat them.
I was so confused by garlic scapes too, and then, oh my goodness – best thing ever (especially when wrapped in bacon).
AGREE. Why they gotta be so scarce?!
Right???? They are long gone in my part of the world. But I enjoyed them while they lasted.
I love zucchini too! But I have never even seen any like this. I have become a massive fan of purple carrots although I can take or leave the orange variety. Maybe it’s the novelty factor but I really think they taste different
Purple carrots are my new thing too! I received some in my CSA box, and you are right – they do taste different. I love that they are the prettiest shade of pinky-orange on the inside and purple on the outside.
I once had an apple that made me happy. It was just a grocery store apple (in Texas, so no local), but I bit into it and suddenly felt happy. Birds singing, cool breeze, friendly sunshine, country hills rolling green… hehe It was the craziest thing, but it was really wonderful. I loved that apple.
Food has a way of evoking feelings – whether nostalgia, joy, surprise, happiness, even envy! (Like I’m envying your apple right now.)
This looks and sounds fabulous, I am on my way to Central Market today and then over to the Farmers Market. Must look for these. One question, for health reasons we are literally a salt free household, what do you think good without the salt?
If you are used to no salt, I really think this would be fabulous without it. Such good favors. Have fun at the markets!! Let me know if you find any of this type of zucchini.
I can see why you are in love…your recipe sounds terrific.
Thanks! Who knew zucchini pairs well with mint and ricotta?
This needs to be in my belly, like, now.
I ate this for dinner last night AGAIN – nothing better than veggies and a giant blob of ricotta!
That’s a really good looking zucchini! And I’m impressed with the recipe, nicely done!
Thanks! It was very tasty.