Summer Squash Casserole

Whether you get your summer squash from your own garden, the farmers market, or you local grocery store, there is always plenty, and plenty of recipes for ways to use it. When I was growing up, my favorite way to eat it was fried.  Mother sliced yellow squash, put it in a bowl with a handful of cornmeal and some chopped onions to coat and fried it, usually in bacon grease. We also had it boiled down to limpness, also flavored with a little bacon fat. For me in those years, squash was yellow and crookneck. Now we grow it and find it many places and many varieties – yellow crookneck, zucchini (straight and ball), calabacita, white pattypan -ranging from dark green to bright yellow, long to stubby, smooth to lumpy to ridged.  Although they vary a little in texture and flavor, they all have thin skins and most adapt to being steamed, fried, grilled or stuffed.  But a classic dish, one that is a favorite for church potlucks, is squash casserole. There are hundreds of recipes. My favorite of all that I have tried has the fewest ingredients and is simplest to make.

I am a fan of Jan Karon’s Mitford series books and even have her cookbook, Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader, which has recipes along with stories to link with characters in the books. The recipe I adapted to make my Summer Squash casserole comes from one called Puny’s Squash Casserole, named for the feisty, hardworking house helper who cooks for the series’ principal character, Father Tim Kavanaugh. It is the kind of recipe you look for when you need to keep it simple!  I have used zucchini and calabacita squash in the dish with equal success.

Summer Squash Casserole

6-8 medium yellow squash, coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 Tablespoon butter

1 cup crushed potato chips or corn flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9X13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Steam squash and onions until tender. Pour into large bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add butter and stir to melt butter. In a small bowl, combine eggs to cheese, salt and pepper, then add to squash mixture.  Pour into baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes then add topping of crushed chips or corn flakes. Bake another 10-15 minutes, until topping begins to brown.

 

 

 

 

Squash Verole

IMG_3111There are so many ways to enjoy summer squash!  I used my 8 inch iron skillet to make this delicious Mexican flavored crookneck squash, a real treat along with some fresh purple hull peas.  I found the recipe in an all time favorite cookbook, The Texas Experience, Friendship and Food Texas Style. I use the cookbook so often the back is coming off and the pages are loose, and I always smile when I see my friend’s handwriting inside the front cover:  “To my best friend with much love, Merry Christmas 1984  Sondra.

It has been almost 30 years since we lived near each other, but I still miss her, and every time we talk, we pick back up where we left off!  Thank you, Sondra.  For the book, and for the friendship!

Squash Verole

4-6 yellow squash, sliced into rounds

1 onion, choed

4 tablespoons oil of your choice (I used coconut)

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup chopped green chiles

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated.

Saute squash and onion in oil until tender.  Add milk, chilies, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove fro heat and add cheese. Serve hot.

IMG_3110

Summer Squash Casserole

IMG_0575Summer squashes come in all shapes, sizes, and colors -round balls or long, shiny zucchini, glossy yellow globes of  crookneck yellow squash, scalloped patty pans, and dozens of others. But growing up in East Texas, when gardeners talked about squash in summertime, it was always the crooknecks.  By the time they appeared on the dinner table, they were sliced, dipped in cornmeal, and fried along with chopped onions in bacon grease.  Once in awhile, a squash casserole showed up at a church potluck.  Just about every church cookbook, and all cookbooks featuring Southern Food will have some variation of this recipe. In our own church cookbook, it is billed as “pastor’s favorite.” This particular recipe is my adaptation of one found in Jan Karon’s MItford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader under the title Puny’s Squash Casserole.  Truth be told, you could use any thin skinned summer squash, but yellow ones make a lovely dish.

Yellow Squash Casserole.

2 Tablespoons butter plus enough to butter the baking dish

6-8 medium yellow squash, sliced into rounds

1 sweet yellow onion, chopped

2 large eggs

1 cup grated sharp cheddar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup crushed Ritz crackers or potato chips

Sprig of fresh rosemary or parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Butter a 9 X 13 baking dish.  Steam squash and onions until tender, place in bowl and mash slightly with potato masher,  add butter and stir to melt butter. In a small bowl,  whisk eggs, cheese, salt and pepper, then add this mixture to squash before pouring into baking dish.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, remove from oven, and add topping.  Return to oven for 10-15 minutes to brown..Add garnish.

 

 

Zesty Zucchini

006

We are eating more vegetables than ever since I started trying so many vegetables to roast, and  different ways to make them special.  Don’t get me wrong, a simple brush with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper gets delicious results.  But the addition of lemon zest, shredded basil, and a few cherry tomatoes definitely makes zucchini that is a favorite to add to any easy summer supper.

Zesty Zucchini

3-4 medium zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves

zest of one lemon

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

olive oil for coating

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place zucchini and tomatoes in ZipLoc bag with enough olive oil to coat.  Lay zucchini halves on  baking sheet, cut side up with cherry tomatoes on top and around them. Sprinkle with lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Top with lemon zest and basil.  Sprinkle with olive oil and place in oven to roast for about 25 minutes, or until squash is fork tender.

There are many variations and combinations that work to make this one of the most versatile side dish for your summer meals.  Try mixing yellow squash or any other summer squash with chopped thyme and sliced lemon.  Fresh mint and a squeeze of orange juice is a bright, fresh taste for a change.  You can also use your outdoor grill for roasting if you prefer.