If you are like me, you grew up on a southern staple in the summer when fresh, ripe vegetables were so readily available- Squash Casserole. I remember both my Mom and Grandmother simmering squash over the stove for what seemed like hours until it was a beautiful, smooth, yellow compound. Then the fat came to visit…butter, sour cream and cheese…lots and lots of cheese. This dish is not all that different, cheese still plays a big roll and I still start by lightly simmering the squash, just to break it down a bit. If you hit the market this weekend, you’ll find plenty of the golden gourd beauties from many different vendors. And if you are without your own urban herb garden, be sure to head over to Mankintowne Specialty Growers for the natural flavor you’ll need.
Herbed Italian Squash Casserole
Cook time: 35-45 minutes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion, sliced
2 lbs yellow squash, sliced in 1/2 rounds
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 stems fresh thyme, finely chopped
4-6 leaves fresh oregano, finely chopped
6 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
pinch of salt and pepper
Start by adding the oil and butter to a sauté pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for about 2-3 minutes, then add squash and salt and pepper. Brown slightly and then add water and cover. Let simmer for about 10 minutes until the squash breaks down slightly.
While the squash simmers, combine the cheeses (reserve 1/2 of the Parmesan to top casserole), herbs and salt and pepper until well blended. Next, reduce heat on the sauté pan to low and add mixture. Combine thoroughly and then transfer to a casserole dish. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until bubbly.
It’s a beautiful, sunny dish and believe it or not, is even pretty tasty served cold the next day!