Costata Romanesca Squash

Squash Costata Romanesca

Squash Costata Romanesca

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.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.


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    • The article on Costata Romanesco summer squash would be found in the site Index under Summer Squash, also under Squash.

  1. It’s the best squash I’ve ever tasted, and I will NEVER go back to buying the more usual squash seeds.

    The first time I grew this squash, I interplanted with cucumbers. I direct-sow both. Something came up that looked like an English cucumber to me. I thought, “I don’t remember planting that variety.” I didn’t know what Constata Romabesco looked like. I decided to taste it right in the garden to figure out what it was, and after two bites I came inside, grabbed a salt shaker, and ate the whole thing raw. Yes, it’s that good, and it makes other squash unappealing. To paraphrase Will Bonsall, There’s no reason to grow any other kind of summer squash unless you’re just thirsty.

    One thing gardeners need to know: It is not as long-lived as the others. It’s not a problem; it’s so tasty you won’t mind planting the seeds again in midsummer. And DO SAVE SEEDS!! That’s how to get plants that are perfectly suited to your specific garden soil and climatic conditions. Let one squash dry on the vine after harvest of the rest of the plant’s fruit, then put it in a warm place for a month. When you can shake the squash and hear the seeds rattle, it’s time to bust it open and gather the seeds.

    I cannot recommend this squash variety highly enough.

  2. Hello
    I just planted some Romanesque squash and I can’t wait till they really take off . If you use the blossoms will that hamper the plants progress in making the fruit. I love plaanting things from my own seeds the best ,as well, so I am very happy to hear I can keep the seeds to use for next year.

    • Commonly squash is so prolific in the production of flowers and fruit that harvesting some blossoms will not reduce your fruit yield. And in regards to seed saving: yes, seed saved from open-pollinated plants (not hybrids) will grow true next season. Happy gardening!

  3. One excellent method of preparation for this type of squash is to slice perpendicular to the length of the vegetable in about 1 cm thick slices, place on a lightly greased baking sheet slices topped with crumbled feta cheese and bake at 350 for approx. 35 min. or until slightly browned. Amazingly good!

  4. You have written about 2 of my favorite squash — Costata Romanesca and Zephyr. This year a Japanese woman named Suiko has been selling a squash at the Santa Rosa farmer’s market called Bianca which is very similar to the Costata, and equally as delicious. The texture is wonderful.

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