Squash Casserole

Another southern tradition is squash casserole. Making it today I realized I don't have a "measure it out" recipe. Rather, I use whatever amount I have and feel my way through. Growing up I ate squash casserole because I had to. My grandmother made it for every holiday and regularly during the summer. However, it wasn't a casserole I particularly liked.

One problem I have with most squash casseroles is the raw onion. Onion has a tendency to overpower other flavors. In addition the chunks of onion seemed to be too big, often undercooked, and inconsistent with the texture of the rest of the casserole. When I started experimenting I decided to saute' minced onion, cooking it thoroughly. This gave the dish that flavor of onion while letting the squash flavor shine.

In addition, I never like a thick casserole rather one large yet thin enough to be well cooked. This, of course, is a personal preference easily remedied with a 13" casserole pan and what I call the second baking. Ever notice how the squash casserole is sometimes too watery leaving a bit of liquid on the bottom of the pan? A second round in the oven after the first serving seems to solve the wateriness issue.

So without a standard measured recipe, here's my "feel your way through" recipe for squash casserole.

All measurements are a general guideline, though each of the ingredients should be included.


Oven 350 degrees

1/2 -3/4 a minced sweet onion
in 1/4 -1/2 stick of margarine until well cooked.

Grate large
4 medium crookneck squash
4-6 oz of extra sharp cheddar (Cheese lovers use 6oz)
I use a 3/8" hole grater. This gives the squash a chance to really show the flavor.

Beat well 3 large eggs
with 1/2 to 3/4 cup whole milk.
Start with 1/2 cup of the milk, then after the squash is added, if you feel you want to make a less firm casserole, add the rest of the milk.

Add onion with margarine, grated squash and grated cheddar to the milk and egg mix.
Toss in 1/2 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs, a good sprinkling of salt and pepper. Mix well and put in a greased (cooking spray) casserole dish. Top off with a good sprinkling of Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Cover it completely just not too thick.

If you like the thinner, drier casserole use a longer dish, a 13" rectangular dish. For a thicker casserole go as small as an 8" square. Glass or ceramic dishes work best.

The cooking time will vary based on the size of the casserole dish. Usually it takes at least 45 minutes. Start checking after 30 minutes. Ready when the middle is firm. A T shape cut into the middle near the end helps cook the middle.

Twice cooked- After that first serving or two from the casserole, I toss the pan back in the 350 degree oven and usually cook at least another 15 minutes. This seems to dry out the casserole a bit, but not so much it's dry. This is a personal preference that I found took me from merely eating what was served to a dish I enjoy and crave when the squash is in season.

As with any recipe, experiment and determine what you like. Change what you want and it'll become your own recipe and quickly, it will become a favorite.

Ever had a squash casserole sandwich?
I like my casserole about 1/2" thick and after the second bake it makes a great leftover sandwich. Slice a sandwich size portion from the leftovers. Warm about 45 seconds in the microwave. Be sure the center is warm. Serve between two slices of bread. True southern eating!

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