Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The Ubiquitous and Delicious Squash Casserole
I am working my way, this week, through that lovely basket of organic vegetables from Cider Mills Farm.
Today the yellow squash is calling to me. These tender little crooknecks are begging for a starring role in my family favorite Squash Casserole. This dish is the ultimate comfort food. I have been making it since I was a young bride and although it is my recipe, it is not unique (which a Google search will verify!) So why try this one? Because it is perfectly balanced and your family will adore it.
You can prepare the casserole in the morning and pop it in the oven right before dinner, or you can bake it off and reheat...it tastes great either way!
3 med or 5 small crookneck squash, washed trimmed and sliced very thin using your mandoline
1 med/large yellow onion, sliced into rings, then halved
3/4 cup milk (I use what is on hand, 1% to whole milk is fine)
1-1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated (longhorn style melts nicely) Reserve 1/2 cup for topping
5 or more saltine crackers ( I use Nabisco Original Saltines over the years I have tried other types of crackers, bread crumbs, you name it...it is not the same)
1 tbs unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper to taste. I find the saltine and cheese add all the salt necessary.
You can adjust all the ingredients to fit the number of and size of your squash. Even older, less tender squash tastes great.
Place sliced squash and onion in a 4 quart pan, fill with water, enough to cover the squash and boil until tender, about 15 minutes (do not overcook or the squash will take on too much water). Now here is the KEY to the success of this dish. Drain the squash/onion mixture thoroughly in your colander while you prepare the remaining ingredients. It does not have to be "bone-dry" but it should be well drained. Place the squash/onion mixture in a 2-4 qt covered casserole
Lightly beat egg into the milk then add to the squash mixture, mix in 1 cup of the grated cheddar cheese, a fork works well to evenly distribute the cheese.
Crush 5-8 saltines, I use my clean hands and crush them right over the casserole. I use the minimum number of crackers necessary to soak up the excess moisture in the casserole. If you use too many...you will have a saltine casserole...too few, a soggy mess.
Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and dot with butter, cover and bake at 350° for 1/2 hour, remove the cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until you get that browned cheesy crust on top.
My husband has followed his nose into the kitchen, "Is that for lunch, I hope?" he asks. How can I say no.