As a child, squash is one of those foods you probably liked to slip under the table to the family dog hoping he would be like Mikey and like it.
That is every child, except maybe me…
I can’t tell you how old I was when I first fell in love with the buttery yellow summer vegetable. It was pre-high school. The was nothing quite as good as stewed squash cooked with chopped onion, a little butter or olive oil, some minced garlic, salt and pepper (lots of pepper for me, please). My family has had a secret ingredient that’s used in many recipes – and that would be chicken broth. Cooking the squash in low sodium chicken broth is heavenly and adds an unbelievable richness to the squash.
I began to branch out and try different methods of preparation for squash. I soon discovered squash casserole is a food fit for Mount Olympus – well, at least a good Southern mountain like Clingman’s Dome.
Another little quirk about my family’s cooking ? We tend to cook by instinct. In other words the recipe is in our head. (We can also tell when something is “done” just by the aroma wafting through the kitchen. That talent comes in handy if your timer is broken.)
My squash casserole was one of those dishes – it was in my head and that’s where I went to retrieve the recipe every time I prepared it. And, I’ve always gotten thumbs up for the finished product. So why tinker with a good thing, right?
Well, mainly to be able to share the recipe. So the other day when I was whipping up a casserole I made an effort to scribe the ingredients of the dish. One thing I can say about the cooking by instinct method – you can deviate and create different, but just as wonderful versions. Double the recipe, add more cheese, omit the cheese, use Pepperidge Farms bread crumbs for the topping instead of Ritz crackers and so on. But, today’s recipe is pretty much my go to, standard recipe. (It won over my southwestern cowboy – even though there are no green chiles in it…although…)
Oh, and the food I wanted to slip under the dinner table to the dog when I was a child? Brussels sprouts.
Bev’s Southern Squash Casserole
6 – 8 medium yellow squash, washed and cut into about 1 in. chunks
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Low-sodium chicken broth
Ground black pepper
5 – 6 slices bread, torn into small pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/4 cup lite sour cream
1 egg, beaten
8 ounces block Cheddar cheese cut into small cubes
1 sleeve Ritz crackers
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Wash and cut squash and place into a large pan or stockpot. Add chopped onion and minced garlic. Cover with low-sodium chicken broth – used just enough until squash is covered. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until squash is fork tender – about 15 – 20 minutes.
2. Drain squash well. Add back into pan or stock pot. Using a potato masher, mash the squash. Do not over mash – squash and onions should be slightly chunky.
3. Next add all the remaining ingredients and mix well. Season to taste.
4. Pour into an oven proof 13 x 9 in. dish that has been prepared with cooking spray.
5. Crush the Ritz crackers over the top of the squash mixture. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the crackers.
6. Bake at 350° until bubbly and topping is golden, about 30 minutes. (It may take a little longer depending on your oven.)
© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.