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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


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)



Butter to grease baking dish

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated


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.

Plate of zucchini mac
Parmesan cheese is the final touch on top.

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


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


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Garden Checklist for week of April 21

This week there’s plenty to keep gardeners busy. With no rain in the immediate forecast, remember to irrigate any new transplants.

* Weed, weed, weed! Get them before they flower and go to seed.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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