Zucchini terrine

By | Monday, October 19, 2020 Leave a Comment

If you grow zucchini, then around this time of year you’ve probably hit the zucchini tipping point. You’ve made zucchini pancakes, zucchini bread, zucchini with rosemary, zucchini this and zucchini that. You’ve put zucchini in soups, sandwiches, and everything else, with the possible exception of ice cream. You’ve also undoubtedly given zucchini to everyone you know, and now they politely demure when you offer them more. I had a box in front of my house for the Amazon delivery people to take zucchini when they came to my door, but, after a while it wasn’t getting taken anymore, so I stopped. Yesterday I harvested 17lbs, and I live alone. One zucchini plant is pretty much enough for two or more households, so, what do you do with the rest?

My quest for things to do with zucchini brought me to the idea of a zucchini terrine. I did the usual online searches, but a good many recipes on offer were more like casseroles or frittatas. Not bad, but not what I had in mind. So, I considered the options and made my own terrine mixing and matching the elements I liked. Fortunately, I had plenty of zucchini to experiment with, because the initial results were “OK”, but not great.

For that first try, I sliced zucchini about ¼” thick on a mandolin. I found sliced zucchini pretty for presentation, but the layers of slices tended to split apart, turning into a less attractive result on the plate. Moving on, I switched to grated zucchini which worked better. 

Zucchini is a mild flavor, so the terrine overall wasn’t compelling. I wanted more flavors and textures – hence, more vegetables – I chose carrots and mushrooms, largely because that is what I had. Also, I wanted some sourness, but I didn’t want lemon flavor, and I didn’t want to deal with possibly curdling the cream and egg, so I reached out to sumac, a spice from the middle east. Not only did it give me the sour element I wanted, but its red color added a meaty appearance to this vegetable dish. This color, combined with the umami and mouth feel of mushrooms, made the terrine more satisfying overall.

What follows is the recipe for the terrine that I have developed. However, it would be more accurate to say that it is a framework for creating such a terrine. At the end of the day, it is really just a vegetable terrine, which is a basic French cuisine construct that can be built from any vegetables you like, or whatever is fresh and available to you at the time. Further, a terrine is fundamentally a casserole cooked in a particular shape of dish in a bain Marie. This is really an example of what a zucchini terrine could be, not what it has to be. Use your imagination, and let us know what you’ve come up with.

  • 2lbs Zucchini, shredded on a box grater
  • 1 Medium onion – medium dice
  • 4 Cloves garlic
  • 7oz Carrots, shredded
  • 10oz Button mushrooms, sliced
  • Optional, substitute other vegetables such as spinach, chard, etc.
  • 2-3 Tbs Finely minced basil and parsley, or whatever herbs you enjoy.
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 Eggs
  • ¼ Cup Cream
  • 2oz Parmesan (the real stuff – not from a jar! Yuck!)
  • 2 Tbs Sumac
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • Salt & Black pepper
  • Butter to coat inside of terrine
[Side note: I started out using white pepper because I didn’t want to see flecks in the custard of the terrine. But, I find that white pepper can impart a funky smell, which was out of place with the mild scent of zucchini, so I went to black pepper. It tastes and smells better, and the flecks really don’t show if ground finely.]


Preheat oven to 350F.

Shred the zucchini on a box grater. Put it in a colander with salt. Allow it to sit ½ hour or more to release moisture. Squeeze out excess by hand if necessary.

Separately, shred, slice, or chop other veggies. Keep separate if you want to create a terrine with layers. If using mushrooms, sauté in a couple tablespoons of water, not oil, until dry. This will par cook the mushrooms and cause them to release water without making them greasy (See the America’s Test Kitchen video, What’s Eating Dan – why you cant overcook mushrooms.

Sweat onion and garlic in EVOO over low heat until softened. Add zucchini and cook till the water is cooked off. Add sumac and cayenne. Add pepper [we add it now so it will disappear into the veggies, as noted.] Allow to cool. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Par cook carrots, or optional vegetables (you can use the same pan.) 

For gods sake, use real Parmesan

Whisk together the eggs, add cream and Parmesan plus salt and whatever chopped herbs you are using.

Butter a 32cm terrine (I use Le Cruset, sized in metric measurements.) Put in a layer of zucchini/onion mixture, then some custard, then veggies, then custard, etc., making layers as desired, till terrine is full (leaving some headroom.) Cover.

Cook in the oven in a bain Marie, approx. 1 hour, or until a knife or skewer poked into the center comes out clean. 

Uncover and allow your terrine to cool on a pastry rack. If you want to hurry this up, after it is partially cooled, you can put it in the fridge.

To unmold, run a pastry knife around the edge of the terrine to help release. Serve cold. It is lovely with sour cream on top.

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