Monday, July 16, 2007

Sweet Surrender

After an exhaustive search for a summer squash casserole recipe that does not call for heavy cream and cheese, I have hoisted the white flag. I officially surrender.

But to make the casserole a bit more interesting, I've added fresh bread crumbs made from one of Whole Foods' "Asiago Volcano" breads.

Otherwise this casserole seems to follow the usual pattern of squash plus onion plus cream plus eggs plus cheese. To my mind, we should make a concerted effort to have plenty of ways to prepare squash so we are not caught off guard when the deluge strikes.

I lifted this recipe from the Martha Stewart website and only adjusted it a little so that I could use the entire basket of Italian squash I've been accumulating on my kitchen counter. My Italian squash plants are not necessarily prolific, but the size of the squash is impressive. What I think is important is the initial cooking of the squash with salt to draw out the moisture. Otherwise, you might have a wet casserole.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut 2 pounds of squash (can be zucchini, yellow squash or a combination) into 1/2-inch slices. Peel and cut 1 large yellow onion into large dice. Place the squash and onion in a cook pot and cover with water. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until squash is tender. Drain into a colander and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, mix the cooked squash and onion with 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (cut part of a loaf and run it through the food processor); 3 large eggs, lightly beaten; 1 cup heavy cream, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves; 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (you'll need another 1/2 cup later); 1 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon ground black pepper; dash cayenne pepper.

Pour the mixture into a greased casserole. Dust with more bread crumbs and another 1/2 cheddar cheese. Place in oven and cook until bread crumbs are lightly browned, about 30 minutes.

Serve this immediately with a chilled bottle of Chablis. Or, make it a day ahead and reheat it.


Rob said...

Hey Ed, it's been almost a week since I looked in on your blog. There's a really great summer squash casserole in one of Deborah Madison's cookbooks -- maybe the Savory Way? -- that I've been making for ages. It uses a light bechamel sauce in lieu of cream and cheese; the thing ends up being delicate and delicious and wonderful. I'm in Boulder right now, but when I get home maybe I'll post it on my blog.

Sunny said...

I don't know if you'll get this but I use summer squash in a unique way. I slice them length wise to make "lasagna noodles" and salt them to draw some of the water out. Meanwhile, I cook ground meat with italian seasonings, ground fennel, salt, pepper, hot sauce and garlic. I also either make a tomato sauce or used store bought spaghetti sauce. Oil a baking dish. Put down a layer of sauce, a layer of zucchini "noodles" and a layer of meat. Repeat. Top with zucchini, sauce and pine nuts if you have them. Bake in a 375 or 425 ish oven until the zucchini are done and serve. Note: There always will be a little extra water. Once it sets overnight that seems to go away. Also, cheese can be added as well as basil leaves as a layer.

Ed Bruske said...

sunny, I really like this. I want to try it...