There were more than a dozen varieties of freshly harvested summer squash on hand this past weekend, the majority of which was out in full display at Her Family Farm’s stand at our Saturday Santa Barbera farmers’ market.
There was everything from baby green and yellow zucchini — no more than a few inches in length with the blossoms still intact — to the more established full-sized specimens on hand. Also in the mix was my favorite spring and summer variety called Costata Romanesco, or more simply labeled as “Romanesco.”
This Italian heirloom summer squash possesses a significant amount of bright orange blossoms on the plant as it begins to produce, most of which inevitably transform into this flavorful squash. Delivering pleasing nutty notes throughout, with an additional sweetness that surpasses that of most of its summer squash counterparts, it can easily be enjoyed in both raw and cooked preparations.
It is also nice when quick-pickled, as you would cucumbers. With a firmer texture, it is absolutely ideal for grilling.
This week I prepared a very simple grilled Costata Romanesco pasta salad. It incorporates Beylik Family Farm’s San Marzano tomatoes, Italian basil and Drake Family Farm’s Herbes de Provence chèvre. When tossed with my grilled squash, the flavors of spring and summer converge in perfect harmony.
Grilled Costata Romanesco Pasta Salad
8 ounces dried pasta such as fusilli, penne or bow-tie
Salt and pepper
3 medium Costata Romanesco squash, ends trimmed and cut into lengthwise quarters.
4 San Marzano, or Roma style tomatoes, diced (Beylik Family Farm, available at Saturday Santa Barbara farmers market, Tuesday Santa Barbara, Thursday Carpinteria, Friday Montecito)
10 large Italian basil leaves, stacked, rolled and cut into thin ribbons
4 ounces herbes de Provence chèvre (Drake Family Farm, Saturday Santa Barbara, Friday Montecito occasionally)
Bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions, usually about 9 minutes for al dente. Once cooked, strain and run under cold water.
Then toss pasta in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss your Romanesco squash in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill squash spears on high heat, about 3 minutes per side, or until nice grill marks are present. Remove from heat and cut into cubes. In a bowl, gently toss together pasta, Romanesco, tomatoes, basil, and chèvre until incorporated. Serve as a nice side dish, or add grilled chicken or cooked tofu if desired for an added protein boost.
Yield: Serves 6 sides.