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Today: A simple preparation turns zucchini into the best version of itself: butter.
Zucchini butter is simpler than you'd ever think, and tastes richer than any vegetable has a right to. The technique comes via The Kitchn from a caterer in Los Angeles named Jennie Cook (also known, incidentally, for her Funny Cake).
It's barely a recipe at all, but a concept you'll find yourself returning to as your counter keeps piling up with summer squash. I'm sharing it with you now, while squash is still new and you still find little crooknecks and pattypans and their cousins with equally cute names irresistible.
Whenever you come home with a bundle of squash, this is the best, purest way you can distill it. (And then in about a month, when we're overrun, it will still be a happy way to dispense with lots of them at once.)
Here's how you make butter out of squash: Take a little olive oil or butter (or both), melt in some minced shallot or garlic (or both), then dump in a lot of grated squash. You can pre-salt and wring it out it if you want to, but it's really not necessary.
It turns out zucchini wants to be butter. Grated fine, it cooks down quickly, pooling into a soft, freckly green pile. (Food52er inpatskitchen, who first tipped me off to zucchini butter, does the same trick with radishes.)
If it sticks to the bottom of the pan, that's actually great. You can keep deglazing with a little water, scraping up the stuck-on bits as you splash it in. You might end up with something a bit more caramelly brown than what you see in the photos here, and it will rock your world.
How to use it? Spread it on toast in place of actual butter. Cake a thick layer in a sandwich with salted tomatoes or soft cheese. Sauce a grilled pizza. Consider it a side dish. Or just eat a big heap of it, right out of the pan, like we did.
Makes about 2 cups
2 pounds zucchini or assorted summer squash (feel free to use less or add extra -- cooking times will vary)
1/4 cup olive oil or butter
2 minced shallots, garlic, or combination of both
Salt and pepper
Photos by James Ransom