Veggies to eat before you die: Zucchini Au Gratin

Yes yes yes, veggies to eat before you die is back with a vengeance. This one is a fabulous spin off from a Julia Child recipe. Why a spin off you say? Because as much as I love Julia, I can't take the dairy. Well, I can't take all the dairy. I wish I could.

What you'll need

2 Zucchini no more than 1.5 inches in diameter
1-1.5 cups of onion, sliced
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp of flour
1/3-1/2 cup of almond milk (you can totally use real milk)
1/2 cup grated cheese. We used three cheeses, Julia suggests swiss.
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
1/2-1 cup fresh bread crumbs

Preheat your oven to 425ºF.

First grate the Zucchini (food processor or hand grater will work). Then place the zucchini, in batches, in a hand towel and squeeze any excess juice off. Save the juice por favor.

Saute the onions in 2 tbsp of butter. I like to brown my onions slightly, I like the richness it give the dish. Add the zucchini to this mixture and continue to sautee.

In the meantime, melt the remaining two tbsp of butter in a small sauce pan. Stir in flour to make a roux. The darker the roux, the less it will thicken the final sauce, so keep that in mind. I have a hard time telling you how dark to make your roux because it is a total personal preference thing. I let mine get golden. Then stir in the almond milk and let thicken. Salt and pepper to taste (keeping in mind that you will be adding cheese, grate some nutmeg in and ...) Voilá, béchamel.

After this, take your béchamel and stir it in with you zucchini/onion mixture. Thin out to desired consistency with reserved zucchini juice. (If you forget to reserve the juice, which I did, you can thin with water, cream, milk, stock, or almond milk.) Stir in the cheese!

Transfer the entire mixture to a buttered baking dish and top with fresh breadcrumbs. Bake for 20-25 or until it is bubbling up the sides.

This dish is heaven, very rich even without all the called for dairy. Personally I think almond milk is the most fabulous real dairy sub, transferring well from everything to cereal to mashed potatoes to béchamel, so all you non-dairy folks out there give it a try. I actually think this whole dish could be done vegan with a olive oil and flour roux and vegan cheese but, seriously, that's pushing it.


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