Romanesco and gray zucchini ….treasures found.

I have written before about the idea of the treasure hunt at the market. There are dozens and dozens of beautiful varieties of fresh produce piled up at all the farmers tables lining the market pathway.  There are blueberries and peaches, corn and tomatoes, summer squash and green, yellow, and purple beans.  All old familiar sought after summer treats.  This week at the market (and for a few weeks to come) I found Romanesco and Grey Zucchini!  These are two delicious varieties of vegetables that, until a few years ago, I had never heard of.  Now, I seek them out.IMG_8652

These unique vegetables were found at The Collingswood Farmers’ Market at Springdale Farms’ table.  Right out in front!

Romanesco (also known as Romanesco broccoli, Roman cauliflower, or even Christmas Tree Broccoli) It is not a new vegetable.  This variety has been grown in Italy since the 16th century. It is uniquely shaped like fractals (which should appeal to your computer and math wizard friends) and is  light chartreuse (yellowish green) in color (which should appeal to your artist friends).  It is crunchy when eaten raw and mild when roasted.  My husband is not a fan of roasted cruciferous vegetables so I steam cook our romanesco and top it with delicious sweet butter and some salt.  Then I mash it!  (I made this recipe for cousins from Ireland we met for the first time….when I’m not cooking I am researching our family tree…and they loved it!  Such a unique presentation, they said!)  It’s easy and different. And my husband will even take seconds.

Mashed Romanesco

a head of Romanesco
three tablespoons of sweet butter (or more to taste)
salt to taste

1. Cut the fractals from the core stem
2.  Fill a pot with a steamer basket and water up to the bottom of the basket.
3.  Steam the Romanesco pieces until soft.  Begin testing by sticking in a fork when you begin smelling the vegetable’s aroma.

4.  When the Romanesco can be pierced with a fork, remove it from the steaming pot and put into a bowl with the butter and salt
5.  With a large fork or potato masher (you could even use a ricer here), mash the cooked romanesco with the butter and salt.

6. Optional….at this point you could toss in some grated cheese or a tablespoon of cream cheese.  Allow the cheese to melt and mix.



The other exciting vegetable found this week was gray zucchini or Mexican Summer Squash.  This can be used in any favorite zucchini recipe.  The recipe spelled out here is for zucchini chips.  This variety of zucchini is mild and holds it’s shape.  It cooks up soft…but not mushy.

Gray Zucchini Chips

2 small to medium gray zucchini squash
olive oil
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
2.  Wash the squash (if you can’t find gray squash…but try!…you can use regular green zucchini) and slice into 1/4 inch rounds

3.  Pour olive oil in a bowl (you are going to dip the slices and coat the with the olive oil…a 1/2 to a whole cup).  Dip a slice of squash into the bowl.  Coat both sides.
4.  In a separate bowl mix the panko bread crumbs, cheese, salt, and pepper.
5.  Dip the olive oil coated squash slice in the bread crumb mixture.  Be sure to dip both sides.

6.  Place the breaded squash on a foil lined baking tray.  Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.
7.  Take the rounds out of the oven and put them on a plate.  Include a dipping sauce.

Dipping sauces:

…a bottled or fresh Ranch dressing is delicious

…or mix a tablespoon of basil pesto into a  1/2 cup of mayonnaise

Or…our new favorite…homemade Halal sauce (you know, the white sauce in a gyro…)

For Halal sauce mix together:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 single serving container of plain green yogurt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


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