By Angela Denstad Stigeler
We’ve all heard the jokes about locking car doors and guarding the front porch during zucchini season, but the real story is that people love these sleek summer squash. Why else would they continue to plant them? The fact that this garden variety vegetable is so prolific is a joy, not a fear, if you know how to handle the surplus.
While zucchini bread is a wonderful sweet treat, you can also cook this squash down into a fabulous savory vegetable spread with very minimal effort and very few ingredients. This simple technique for making a zucchini “butter” will help you reduce even large zucchini into a culinary treasure just right for all sorts of uses. Simply spread on toast, or served warm as a side dish, you’ll love the savory creamy-crunchy texture. You can also slather it over fillets of cod or other white fish before cooking in parchment packets (en papillote). It’s also a great way to dress up a simple sandwich, and it’s still one of my favorite ways to fill an omelette.
So before you start turning down offers of free zucchini, make sure you get your fill of summer’s best bread—and butter—ingredient!
2 pounds zucchini
1 small shallot, minced
2 garlic gloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper
Wash and trim the zucchini. If using large zucchini, slice them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Coarsely grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater and let drain in a colander for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat and melt the butter into it. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until just softened, a minute or two. Add the shredded zucchini and toss to coat. Increase the heat to medium high, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the liquid is released, adjusting the heat as necessary so it doesn’t scorch. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is almost entirely evaporated and the zucchini is very soft, about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste with additional salt and pepper. Makes about 2 cups.