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Zucchini mac makes most of giant squash

Recipe: 'Zucchini butter' holds together this baked macaroni

Casserole of zucchini mac
Zucchini mac, fresh from the oven. (Photos: Debbie
Arrington)

It’s that time of year when my zucchini keeps growing faster than I can pick it. Little baby squash seem to turn into 2- or 3-pound specimens in less than a week.

When I measure a zucchini by the pound, that squash is best used grated, making the most of its moisture and fiber.

Grated zucchini is the basic ingredient in a wonderful summer pasta sauce. It’s rich, creamy and (I insist) good for you. (It’s green! It has to be!)

This sauce is a variation of Julia Child’s recipe for grated zucchini sautéed with shallots, also known as zucchini butter. It’s wonderful with all sorts of pasta – long, short or twisty.

Child nicknamed it “zucchini butter,” which is how it tastes. It also can be made with olive oil instead of butter; leave out the cream for a lighter version.

Since I have a lot of zucchini this summer, I started experimenting with zucchini butter. This combination was the best yet, using zucchini butter instead of heavy cheese sauce in a variation of mac and cheese.

Chunk of zucchini on a cutting board
This chunk of zucchini weighed exactly 1 pound.
Zucchini mac

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

For sauce:

1 pound zucchini, grated (about 3 cups)

1 teaspoon salt

2 to 3 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup onion, finely chopped

½ cup cream

1 cup elbow macaroni (uncooked)

Water

Salt

Butter to grease baking dish

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Shredded zucchini
Let the shredded zucchini drain at least 5 minutes.


Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare zucchini. Grate squash with skin on. Remove any large hard seeds. Salt grated zucchini and place in a colander. Let drain at least 5 minutes, pressing down gently to remove excess moisture.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Sauté onion in melted butter until soft. Add zucchini and sauté, stirring often, until most of the moisture is evaporated and the squash is very soft, about 5 minutes. Add cream and stir until blended. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Stir until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, prepare elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain.

Add cooked macaroni to zucchini sauce in pan. Stir to combine.

Butter an 8-inch baking dish. Put zucchini-macaroni mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until cheese turns golden. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

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RECIPE

A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.

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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Sept. 25

This week's warm break will revive summer crops such as peppers and tomatoes that may still be trying to produce fruit. Pumpkins and winter squash will add weight rapidly.

Be on the lookout for powdery mildew and other fungal diseases that may be enjoying this combination of warm air and moist soil.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Plant for fall now. The warm soil will get cool-season veggies and flowers off to a fast start.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with "eyes" about an inch below the soil surface.

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