Zucchini? You’re probably saying to yourself, What’s she doing writing about zucchini already? You may be looking out your window at rain, or sleet or snow. But just keep in mind I live in Rome. And in Rome, teeny tiny baby zucchinis are starting to show up in the market.
It’s not as if Italy is the tropics or anything. These zucchini are coming from greenhouses just south of Rome. But if you’re thinking big, industrial type greenhouses think again. These are the simple structures farmers use in this part of the world to stretch the seasons just a bit.
And these gorgeous, flower-bedecked, twisted vegetables aren’t just any zucchini. They are zucchini romanesche, which are – in my humble opinion – the only zucchini worth speaking to. What makes them so special is that they have a very low water content, and so when you cook them, they start to caramelize immediately, without getting all soft and mushy on you.
Since they stay so firm they are the perfect vehicle for a salad. Which is what I did with them the other night. After a brief, high temp, roasting in the oven, I layered them on a platter and drizzled them with a lemony vinaigrette. Some hot peppers, toasted coriander seeds and fresh coriander from the terrace brightened everything up and made me forget – for at least a second – that it’s still far from summer here too. Feel better?
roasted zucchini salad
1 pound / 1/2 kilo of baby zucchini (romanesche if possible)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
chopped red pepper
Preheat oven to 200C/ 400F.
Wash and slice the zucchini lengthwise. Put them in a bowl and coat them with olive oil. Lay them on an oven tray, cut side down. Sprinkle with salt. Place in oven and cook for about 2- – 25 minutes, until just tender and browned.
In the meantime heat a small pan and toast the coriander seeds over medium heat until fragrant (about 3 minutes). Gently crush.
Mix the olive oil and lemon juice.
If you can’t find zucchini romanesco in your farmer’s market, I’d suggest you try to grow them this year. You can start the seedlings now, and plant them out in May/June. You can find the seeds here and here.