Did you know there is a day in August designated as “National Sneak Some Zucchini Into Your Neighbor’s Porch Day”?
Unfortunately, it was last week.
So it seems that if you’re overrun with zucchini and other summer squash, you’re now officially left to your own devices.
That’s where this casserole comes in. It calls for lots of the bountiful summertime vegetable, . . . er fruit, clearing space in the refrigerator for all the rest of the produce that clamors for attention this time of year.
Generally speaking, we aren’t big casserole people around here.
Sometimes I wish I was more into casseroles, actually. They seem like the perfect thing to make ahead, pop in the freezer and pull out just in time for a home-cooked dinner on a harried night. But the thing about all those make-ahead meals is that someone has to have the foresight to actually make them — ahead of time.
I tend to be a little more last minute than that.
To that end, I usually lean toward meals that cook up quickly and dirty as few dishes as possible. Recipes that start off with a stovetop sauté and then move on to a mixing bowl before finally ending up in baking dish for a stint in the oven rarely get more than a passing glance from me.
But squash casserole is a Southern classic and a family staple. My maternal grandmother’s version included a box of Pepperidge Farm dressing and a can of cream of mushroom soup. It was probably the first casserole I ever learned to make.
This is a slightly lighter take on the classic, though it’s still hearty enough to serve as a main dish.
It comes from “The Blackberry Farm Cookbook,” a beautiful volume, organized by seasons, that is as much coffee table book as it is kitchen resource. The casserole has a satisfyingly cheesy interior under a crunchy, buttered-breadcrumb top and still manages to pack enough of a vegetable punch to seem reasonably nutritious.
Not to mention, it will use up those pesky summer squash you forgot to leave on your neighbor’s porch over the weekend.
Adapted from "The Blackberry Farm Cookbook."
I used yellow crookneck squash for this recipe, but zucchini or any other summer squash will do.
Also, the original recipe calls for 1 cup grated Manchego cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan. I've made it this way several times and like it. This time around, I replaced both with a cheese called Catamount Hills that tastes a little like Swiss crossed with Parmesan. Just choose something with a bit of a nutty flavor that will melt reasonably well and you'll be fine.
Leftovers will keep, tightly covered and refrigerated, for two or three days.
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 small Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely chopped
- About 2 pounds summer squash (for me this was five small squash)
- 1 1/4 cups grated cheese, divided (see headnote)
- 1 cup bread crumbs, divided (I used panko)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8x8 inch or similarly-sized baking dish and set aside.
Slice the squash in half lengthwise and then slice crosswise into half-moon segments about 1/4" thick.
In a large skillet, melt the butter, then transfer 2 tablespoons of the butter to a small bowl and set aside.
Add the onion to the pan and cook over medium-high heat until it is soft and translucent, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender.
Transfer the squash and onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add 1 cup of the cheese, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, the eggs, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and spread the mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish.
In the small bowl, combine the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs with the reserved melted butter. Distribute the buttered crumb mixture over the squash.
Bake the casserole for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve hot.