Friday, August 19, 2011

Squash Casserole, Three Ways

At long last, the post about squash casserole that I have been promising for what seems like forever! I’m not sure what happened to the rest of July, and August has been a whirlwind of back to school activity. And there was my son’s birthday, work deadlines and a rotten cold. Nonetheless, it is mid-August and I’m still trying to catch up! Although school has started back, it is still very much summertime in Georgia. Squash, okra, watermelon, cantaloupe and tomatoes are still producing like gangbusters and I’m savoring every bite I can of fresh summer produce. 

Squash casserole fresh from the oven.
So, let’s talk about squash for a moment. Love it, hate it? I’ll admit I was a yellow squash hater for a very long time. I’ve always liked zucchini, but there was just something about yellow squash that rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve determined that it’s a textural thing. Squash is too often overcooked, which brings it out the squishy, seedy, bitter  factor. I have a friend who HATES tomato straws (the tough, curled up bits of skin) in cooked tomatoes. Squash kind of does that too – the inside gets squishy yet the skins remain kind of tough. We all have our pet peeves!

The only way I ever liked yellow squash as was fried. Coated with cornmeal and pan fried with a little onion, fried squash is so good --especially with some green beans and fresh tomato. This summer I was determined to find a way to like squash casserole. I’m really not sure why, because it's not like it’s that great for you. Maybe it’s because I like a challenge? Maybe it’s because not liking squash casserole seems rather un-Southern of me?

Recently, I asked you all to help me overcome my loathing of squash casserole and steer me toward some good recipes. The first one I tried out was sent to me by friend, Caroline, and I’ve made a variation of it twice now (you know I can’t follow recipes exactly).

Two Cheese Squash Casserole
Adapted from Southern Living – (for a larger portion follow the “real” recipe)

4-5 medium sized yellow squash, sliced
2 tablespoons  butter
1 leek (the white and light green parts with just a few dark green parts for color) finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups soft breadcrumbs, divided
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup  (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon minced fresh or dried parsley
½ cup sour cream
1  large egg
½  teaspoon salt (plus an extra dash on top)
½  teaspoon freshly ground pepper (plus extra for topping)
1 tablespoon olive oil 

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet over medium-high heat; add leek and garlic, and sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until tender. Remove skillet from heat; stir in squash: 1 cup breadcrumbs, Cheddar cheese, sour cream, egg and seasonings. Spoon into a lightly greased 8 x 8-inch baking dish or small round casserole. Stir together olive oil, remaining breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, a dash of salt and a little fresh ground pepper. Sprinkle mixture evenly over top of casserole. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until set.

  • If you don’t have a leek on hand, you could definitely use regular onion or green onion. I like the mild flavor of leeks and happened to have one.
  • Fresh bread crumbs make a big difference! I used homemade-like whole wheat bread (from the bakery) and crumbled it up with my hands.
While I have been on this squash casserole kick, I also had the fortune of getting a few pattypan squash in my CSA box. I had never seen these before! Since they look like mini-casseroles already, I had the idea to make a little self contained casserole in each one. This was a total experiment, so I’m not going to give you exact measurements. If you can find some of these cuties, play around with it and see what you can come up with! I think they would be yummy stuffed with rice or quinoa, too.

Stuffed Pattypan Squash “Casseroles”

4 Pattypan Squash
Bread crumbs (maybe a cup?)
Sour cream (maybe 1 tbsp.)
Chopped onion (finely chopped)
Garlic powder
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese

Steam squash in about 1 inch of water until tender. Remove and cool until it is cool enough to handle. Cut the tops off at an angle and scoop out any seeds to make an indention for the filling. Stir together bread crumbs, sour cream, onion, garlic, seasonings, a splash of olive oil and a little cheese. Fill each squash and top with Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of fresh pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes until cheese is golden brown. 

This was so good!!! Of course, my sons only ate the crusty cheese topping, but less picky eaters may well embrace their very own self contained mini squash casserole! 

And now for Squash Casserole #3 -- I was looking for something to do with squash and potatoes and ran across this great recipe from the Smitten Kitchen. Technically, it’s a torte. But, it’s also a casserole of sorts. I loved the simplicity of layering potatoes and squash. I made a few changes to the recipe based on necessity – mostly omitting the green onion and thyme because I didn’t have any. I also used red potatoes instead of Yukon Gold. I think Deb's recipe would be great with green onions, so definitely follow it if you are an onion fan. She suggests that would also be great cooked in a skillet. I made mine in a 10-inch springform pan lined with parchment paper in lieu of two small pans.

Summer Squash and Potato Torte
(Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen)

1 small onion, thinly sliced into 1-inch pieces (or smaller if you prefer)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds Yukon Gold or large red potatoes, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds (she peeled, I left unpeeled)
12 ounces yellow crookneck squash or regular yellow summer squash, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds (probably about 3-4 medium sized squash)
6 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans. (Or, you could use a 10-inch round pan.) Set aside 1/4 cup sliced green onions. Toss remaining green onions, cheese, flour, herb, salt and pepper in medium bowl to blend.

Layer potato slices in concentric circles in bottom of 1 prepared pan, overlapping slightly. Layer squash in concentric circles atop potatoes. Place onion slices strategically to fill in holes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with cheese mixture. Repeat with another layer of potatoes, then squash, onion slices and 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with cheese mixture. Top with  potatoes. (I put more squash on top, too.) Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Sprinkle with cheese mixture and press gently to flatten. Repeat procedure with second cake pan and remaining potatoes, squash, oil, and cheese mixture.

Cover pans with foil. Bake until potatoes are almost tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until tortes begin to brown and potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes longer. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cool. Cover with foil and chill. Rewarm, covered with foil, in 350°F oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.)

Cut each torte into wedges. Sprinkle wedges with green onions if desired.

Slice of squash pie!
Here you go – squash  casserole three ways and nary a can of cream of mushroom soup or Ritz crackers to be found! And no mushy, bitter squash either. I’d love to hear back from you about your favorite squash casserole. Also, if you try one of these recipes, I’d love to hear how it turned out. Thank you so much  for your recipe tips, comments and encouragement. I think I'll go heat up some leftover squash potato torte now!


  1. My mother in law makes a squash caserole with winter squash. She uses heavy cream, bacon, mushrooms, onions, cheese, plus other fatty flavorful ingredients I can't remember. It's tasty if you can get past the guilt!

    I'm definitely going to try the torte!! Yum!

  2. Just made the torte. It was great--better even than I expected.
    I used a leek and a bunch of green onions cause we love them, and threw in some cherry tomatoes that I needed to use. I could take or leave the tomatoes.
    Made it in two pans, one layered half as thick as the other, and I think I liked the thinner one a little better since it browned more.
    Some hot sauce, a salad, and a beer makes this a perfect supper.
    Good looking out Rachel!

  3. Thanks, Sybil, for the tip. I'll have to try winter squash when the weather cools down. April, I'm glad you enjoyed the torte. It is so much better than you think it's going to be. I'm going to try it next time with fresh rosemary and even more cheese. Thanks for reading!

  4. Cheesy squash casserole is one of my favorite comfort foods! :)

  5. Oh I am definitely one of those people that love squash! I have never heard of a Pattypan Squash before....I will have to keep an eye out for some of those! :)

  6. Thanks for this great collection of squash recipes. We eat a lot of squash around and I don't think I've ever had an aversion to it. Nice post.

  7. Those pattypan squash casseroles are way too cute! Roughly how long do they take to steam?

  8. Thanks, all! @Jessica - I think I steamed the squash about 10 minutes. Really, it doesn't take long -- just until the stem is tender. I meant to tell you that I think it might make a nice quinoa recipe for you! :)

  9. I made the Two Cheese Summer Squash Casserole. It was to die for!!! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences in cooking. Lots of fun to read and you give me lots of fresh ideas! Pam Malsom

  10. @Pam - Thanks so much for reading. I'm so glad you enjoyed the Two Cheese Squash Casserole. Your comment made my day! :)

  11. These look wonderful! thanks!