Julia Child's Recipe Is the Tastiest Way to Use Up Extra Zucchini

Use up 1 to 2 pounds of zucchini per batch in this 25-minute recipe!

Come summer, our herb gardens are overflowing even more than our favorite fully-loaded cheese and charcuterie boards and our refrigerator's Costco-sized sparkling water stock. The only thing more prolific in our home gardens (or at our local farmers markets), it seems? Zucchini.

There's a reason why it's deemed a "summer squash"—it's prime time for growing and cooking the vegetable, and it's so good at its job of producing new fruit that there's even a holiday inspired by this abundance. August 8 is "National Sneak Some Zucchini on Your Neighbor's Porch Day." 🤣

You have more options than porch-dropping squash all around town when you've had your fill of zoodles and zucchini bread, though. And just like with her brilliant no-cook entertaining appetizer hack and helpful hard-boiled egg advice, Julia Child is once again saving the day. This time, it's with her simmered-down sauce/condiment concept that's been recreated dozens of ways since: Zucchini butter.

One of our favorite renditions is from Smitten Kitchen blogger and cookbook author Deb Perelman, who tossed together a dreamy summer dinner with the sauce:

"Made this tonight with a yellow squash- what a perfect and delicious recipe, Deb! Looking forward to eating it all summer long," one fan raves. Another adds: "This might be yummy for this weekend's brunch with a crispy fried egg on top! đź’ˇ" (We love your style, Smitten Kitchen fan!)

In the blog post about her 25-minute Zucchini Butter Spaghetti, Perelman says she first noticed the idea on Food52, then traced back to Julia Child's Grated Zucchini Sautéed in Butter and Shallots.

"Over rounds of tweaking, I eliminated several things, not because they weren't good, but because they didn't suit my needs here: the shallots (added too much sweetness), the partial addition of olive oil (I was promised butter, after all), salting, draining, and wringing the zucchini (so much work, all for a shriveled pile of zucchini that dragged in the pan), adding a little more butter (it helps when stretching it across a big bowl spaghetti), and a not insignificant amount of garlic, pepper flakes, basil and Parmesan," she says.

Julia Child on a designed background of zucchinis
Getty Images / Elena Komonina / ABC Photo Archives

So while Child's recipe is more of a zucchini side dish and Food52's is a spreadable butter, Perelman's rendition is a squash sauce. Any and all of the ways, this garlicky, quick-cooking creation is a treat—and a terrific way to put 1 ¼ pounds to 2 pounds of zucchini to use in 25 minutes or less.

The process for making zucchini butter is no sweat: Melt a bit of butter in a large skillet, add minced garlic and cook until it's fragrant. Then add copious amounts of grated zucchini, allow that to simmer down until it releases the water inside and that water evaporates. The result is jammy, slightly nutty (from the browned butter) and a bit sweet and caramelized in flair (thanks to the concentrated zucchini).

If you're making this as a pasta sauce, simply boil up some noodles. Just before straining, reserve some of the starchy pasta cooking water to toss with the zucchini butter, add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce, if desired, and toss with the pasta. Garnish with fresh basil and grated Parmesan, and your dinner is done!

We'll be making this zucchini butter any which way all summer long. Still have a squash surplus, even after giving this a go? Sample your way through our 34 best zucchini recipes of all time.

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