Costata Romanesca Squash

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Costata Romanesca is an heirloom Italian squash often considered the best tasting and best textured summer squash. It is sometimes called cocozelle or ribbed Roman zucchini. It is also called courgette, marrow squash, and vegetable marrow.

Costata Romanesca is an elongated squash with a dark green skin marked by greenish-yellow stripes that run its length. The squash measures 10 to 15 inches (25-38 cm) long and nearly 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter at full grow. Slightly raised ribs run the length of Costata Romanesca and it can sometimes be lightly flecked.

Costata Romanesca is juicy and sweet-nutty flavored. It can be picked tiny and eaten whole; otherwise, it is best to harvest this summer squash at 7 to 10 inches long. Even at 15 inches long Costata Romanesca remains tender and flavorful. The male blossoms of this squash can be stuffed or breaded, cooked, and eaten.

Grow. Costata Romanesca is a summer squash that requires 62 frost-free days to mature. It is a vining plant that demands plenty of room. Costata Romanesca’s botanical name is Cucurbita pepo. Costata Romanesca is an open-pollinated plant which means you can save its seeds at the end of the season and grow the same plant again next year. This squash can be susceptible to powdery mildew.

Choose: Select firm, undamaged Costata Romanesca squashes with glossy skins free of cracks and blemishes.

Store: Costata Romanesca can be refrigerated but it is best to use this squash within a week of harvest. Handle summer squash with care because it is easily damaged.

Prepare: Before eating or cooking, wash and cut off both ends of the squash. Unless the skin is bitter, you do not have to peel tender squash.

Squash can be used whole, grated, halved, or cut into cubes, strips or slices. Trim the ends and cut into chunks or slice before cooking.

You can “drain” squash with high water content by cutting it into slices and arranging it in a shallow dish. Then sprinkle the slices uniformly with coarse salt and let drain for 20 to 30 minutes. Use a strainer and rinse the slices under cold running water, pat them dry, and proceed with your recipe.

Cook. Costata Romanesca is a good choice for steaming, sautéing, and grilling.

Steam halves, slices, or pieces on a steam rack in a large saucepan until tender, about 15 to 40 minutes.

Sauté or stir-fry cut pieces in olive oil until the pieces are tender.

Pan-fry or deep fat-fry cubes or slices coated in a wet batter, dipped batter, or seasoned dry coating until the crust is golden brown.

Grill in 5 to 20 minutes depending upon the size: halves will cook faster if placed flesh side down basted olive oil or with butter or margarine.

Serve. Use small raw Costata Romanesca squash as an addition to crudités trays and salads. Serve sliced raw tender squash with a dip. Slice thinly and add to appetizers, salads, or sandwiches.

• Coat with butter, wrap in foil, then barbeque or bake.

• Halve then stuff with a meat or rice mixture, or bake with butter and Parmesan cheese.

• Add to soups, stews, quiches, or omelets.

• Brush halves with olive oil and grill.

Squash flowers are edible with a delicate flavor and aroma. Quickly sauté blossoms over high heat or stuff and bake.

Costata Romanesca has been called the “classic zucchini.” Before many hybrid summer squash were introduced, Costata Romanesca was widely grown. The name “zucchini” came into general use in California in the 1920s and 1930s when Italian immigrants began to grow the Costata Romanesca widely and were looking for a simple name. “Zucca” is the Italian word for squash; “zucchini” is the diminutive masculine plural.