This is the first recipe I made and posted on this blog. And it happened in an unusual way. Cucumbertown, the lovely people who hosted my blog when I first set it up, asked whether we bloggers would like to prepare some of Julia Child’s recipes, and make them exactly as she had described. The entire preparation was to be captured on the video app Cucumbertown had specified. Of course, I volunteered, and then selected this Zucchini au gratin as my Julia Child Recipe.
I regularly make au gratin at home, but it is usually blanched vegetables such as cauliflower and peas in a white sauce and with a lot of cheese. This is the first time I tried it with just grated zucchini. The taste, when made with Julia Child’s recipe, was awesome, with the butter and the fresh taste of the sautéed zucchini, vying with the cheese for flavour and aroma.
The video was not a great success, as a part of it was shot with my husband trying to shoot the video and a part of it with me holding my iPhone in one hand, and whisking the sauce with the other! However this delicious Zucchini au gratin has become a favourite at home so I’m reposting it with images captured when I last made this again.
Health and Nutrition:
Zucchini are one of the easiest and most versatile vegetables to cook, and have a host of health benefits too, including helping the body protect itself from some cancers. Check on my recipe for Chilli Zucchini Soup to read more about the nutritious properties, as well as on the culinary uses of zucchini in various countries across the Globe. Link to the recipe: chilli zucchini soup
Kitchen tips for making Zucchini au gratin:
Place the grated zucchini (including the peel) in a colander and squeeze out the water. The volume will reduce drastically once the water drains out, so you may need to keep this in mind while deciding how many zucchini you need to use.
Grating the zucchini as in Julia Child’s original recipe, brings out the flavour of the zucchini as well its unique texture. I tried making the zucchini au gratin with thinly sliced zucchini once, and it didn’t have the rich creamy taste that comes with grated zucchini that just melts into the sauce.
Serve Zucchini au gratin hot with your favourite bread, such as a herby focaccia.
Zucchini Au Gratin from Julia Child's Recipe - Green zucchini tossed in a creamy velouté sauce and baked until bubbly and golden
- 3 cups zucchini - grated
- 1/4 cup Shallots - diced
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- To Taste salt
For the sauce:
- 1.5 Cups milk
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 2 Tablespoons Parmesan - grated
- To Taste pepper
- to taste salt
To Prepare the Ingredients:
- Julia Child's recipe calls for green zucchini and that's what I have done. You could use yellow zucchini instead, but either way use any one colour of zucchini for the gratin.
- Once the water is drained and the zucchini sauteed, the volume will go down, so check for the quantities you need to prepare and increase the volume of sauce proportionately.
- Grate the zucchini using a box grater.
- Squeeze out the liquid from the grated zucchini, let it stand for about 15 minutes and then squeeze again to get rid of any extra water.
- Water allowed to remain could make the gratin soggy. Drain away as much as you can.
- Mince the shallots or onions, if using.
- Grate the cheese.
- Grease a casserole dish (OR individual ramekins, if preferred).
To make Julia Child's Zucchini Au Gratin
- Heat two tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium high heat.
- Add the minced shallots and sauté on low heat for about 4 minutes, until the shallots are soft and translucent.
- Add the grated zucchini and salt to taste and continue sautéing for another 5 minutes, or until the zucchini is soft and a bright green.
- If there is some water remaining, cook the zucchini a little longer till the water evaporates. Remove from heat.
- Transfer to the casserole or ramekins. Spread the zucchini evenly.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius).
To make the Sauce:
- Warm a pan over medium heat, and then melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter on low heat.
- Once it is melted and bubbly, add the flour and whisk constantly until the raw smell of the flour disappears and the mixture turns beige, like the colour of peanut butter, about 2-3 minutes. The whisking is important so that the sauce does not catch at the bottom of the pan.
- Slowly stream in the milk, whisking while you pour.
- Continue whisking until no more clumps of roux remain.
- Season the sauce with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the zucchini has already been seasoned.
- Continue whisking over medium heat until the sauce thickens, ie about 5 minutes. The sauce needs to be thick, or else the gratin could become mushy.
- Once thick, pour the sauce over the zucchini in the greased casserole, stir it in.
- Check for the seasoning and if required add a little more salt and pepper and mix it in well.
- Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese evenly on top.
- Bake zucchini au gratin for 20 minutes or until it is bubbly and the top is golden.
- Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve with warm crusty bread.
- I usually add a layer of breadcrumbs to au gratin to give a nice crust and some texture to the dish, however as this recipe of Julia Child's does not suggest breadcrumbs, I have not addd the same. Similarly I have not added any herbs, though mint, tarragon or parsley would go well with the zucchini.