Long-cooked zucchini butter is the perfect way to reduce large amounts of zucchini into a flavorful spread.
Many years ago, I published this recipe for zucchini butter on a food-centric website that I ran as part of my last job. Sadly, they pulled that old site down recently, which left me with broken links and no way to share the goodness of zucchini butter when asked (the recipe is also in Preserving by the Pint, but not everyone has that book at their fingertips).
I learned to cook zucchini like this from my friend Lucy. At the time, she worked as a flower gardener at a historical home in Virginia. On stormy days, the outdoor staff would gather in their little kitchen and cook up produce from the garden.
During one of those cooking sessions, an Italian vegetable gardener taught her to slow cook zucchini with herbs until it melted into a spreadable, succulent paste. I’ve never been more grateful for a second-hand cooking lesson, as this humble little butter is intensely delicious. I like to spread it on toast or toss it with warm pasta.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 5 garlic cloves, gently smashed
- 2 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 pounds)
- 5-6 springs of thyme (rosemary is also good here)
- 1/2 teaspoon finely milled sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place a large skillet over medium heat. Place the olive oil and butter and allow them to melt together. Roughly chop the smashed garlic and add it to the pan. Add the zucchini cubes.
- Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the zucchini has begun to soften. Strip the thyme leaves off their stems and add them to the pan.
- Reduce the heat and continue to cook, stirring often. The goal is to cook the liquid out of the zucchini and melt it into a flavorful, spreadable paste. If at any point, the zucchini starts to brown and stick, add a splash of liquid (water is fine, though if you have an open bottle, a little white wine is also delicious) and reduce the heat a bit more.
- Total cooking time should be right around an hour.
- Once cooked, divide the spread between two half pint jars. It will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge or a year in the freezer.