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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 Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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