The summer my husband and I moved to New York my in-laws introduced me to several delicious Italian dishes. They would arrive at our house bearing fresh mozzarella, a cold squid salad seasoned with lemon and fresh basil, and a zucchini dish that my mother-in-law called Concha. These are now some of my go-to summer foods that we look forward to and savor. And, concha has the added benefit of using up lots of zucchini.
Concha is a cold summer squash salad that is a traditional Roman Jewish recipe. It’s not only tasty but has the added benefit of using up many zucchini. My mother-in-law prepared it by deep frying the squash slices and then combining them in a bowl with red wine vinegar, slices of raw garlic and chopped fresh basil. I’ve changed it to a lower-fat version with roasted garlic that better suits our taste.
Here’s my method:
- Slice up many fresh summer squash about a quarter inch thick. I use Zephyr squash because that’s what I grow the most of but you can use any zucchini or summer squash. Allow for two medium sized squash per person.
- Lay the slices out on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and roast them in a 350 degree oven until the edges of the squash start to brown. Usually it takes a total of 40 to 55 minutes.
- At the same time the squash is roasting put two or three cloves of garlic (still in their paper) into the oven.
- After about 20 minutes turn the squash slices over and put them back into the oven. Remove the garlic and let it sit to cool.
- Once the squash starts to brown on the edges remove it from the oven. Take the husk off of the cooled garlic and put it into a bowl. Add vinegar and olive oil – for every cup of the finished, cooked squash I use one tablespoon of red wine vinegar, one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. You can use less of each if you’d prefer. Smash the roasted garlic into the vinegar before mixing into the squash.
- Add the roasted squash slices into the bowl with the vinegar and garlic mix.
- Slice up fresh basil leaves into ribbons and toss them in with the other ingredients. I use about a tablespoon of chopped basil leaves for every cup of roasted squash.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. This dish improves in flavor if made a day before you serve it.
The roasting brings out the sugars in the squash which combine with the vinegar, olive oil, garlic and basil to make one really delightful summer dish. Because the roasting takes some of the water out of the squash you can use eight zucchinis in a dish that you’ll serve to four people.
Serve with fish, meat, or cheese and good bread.
Forget those “zucchini bread” recipes that only use one or two small squash…go for the gold (and no sugar!) and make Concha.