The Seasoned Franciscan - Cooking Joyfully

Summer Squash Casserole

By Vicki Lopez-Kaley (Seasonal) on Monday, August 22nd 2022


Summer Squash Casserole

Here’s an easy Summer Squash Casserole with roots in the southern U.S. Read on to meet southern chef Vivian Howard, view her “Old School Squash and Onions” recipe and hear her stories.

Makes 8 - 10 side dish servings. If you don’t need 8-10 servings, you could make two casseroles and share one with a friend!

Ingredients:
3 lb. yellow squash (4 small), cut in 1 / 4” thick slices
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 T olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2  large eggs
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 C mayonnaise
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
1 T  chopped fresh thyme leaves (1 tsp dried) OR 1 tsp dried dill weed
3 T butter, melted, plus more for pan
1 1/2  sleeves round butter crackers, such as Ritz, broken (about 3 C)
1/4 C  grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. Combine squash and onion on a large cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and black pepper. Toss well to combine. Cook for 25 minutes, until squash is slightly softened and has released its liquid. Drain the mixture through a colander. Press gently with paper towels to remove some extra moisture. Let cool a bit as you prepare other ingredients.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350. Place the eggs in a large bowl and whisk. Add sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese, thyme and black pepper and stir together. Fold in warm squash and onions (You don’t want them to be hot from the oven.). Transfer mixture to buttered 3-qt. baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes (You can do the recipe this far and store in the fridge to finish later. If doing so, add topping (step 3) and cook (step 4) in the microwave for about 15 minutes!).

In a small bowl, combine melted butter, cracker pieces and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle in an even layer top on top of the casserole. Return to the oven for 25 to 30 minutes more, until crackers are golden brown and the edges are bubbly. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Story:
Most produce is available year-round when shipped from warm climates. But, foods in their season are most delicious! Flavor is only one benefit of seasonal eating. The Seasoned Franciscan will explore them all.

In the Midwest, summer squash and onions are in season in late July/early August. Native to Central and South America as far back as 10,000 years ago, summer squash (from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means “eaten raw or uncooked) is a staple in Native American and Mexican cuisine.  Summer squash come in many varieties, shapes and sizes.  Smaller ones have a better texture, fewer large seeds and more concentrated flavor.  Larger ones are better suited to baking and stuffing.

Learn more:
Restaurant owner and cookbook author Vivian Howard is one of my favorite PBS chefs. She honors seasonal local foods and the African American and Indigenous roots of many southern soul food dishes, the connection between culture and food. Vivian makes this northern girl want to explore more food and culture stories of the south. When describing summer squash she says, it’s “not boring!” “She is elegant, feminine and delicious!” What a beautiful image! Find her Squash and Onions Recipe below or watch her make it herself. You might get interested in other southern foods that do well in northern gardens!

View Vivian’s recipe here or visit youtube.com to watch her make it herself. (I used oil and butter instead of bacon fat and to make it a main dish added cooked ground turkey with Mexican spices. Any leftover meat will do!)

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