Full of seasonal zucchini and yellow (crookneck) squash, this summer squash casserole is what summer is all about to me. Red peppers, onions, and cheese accent the delicious squash, and crunchy cheese crackers provide a nontraditional finish! I’ve also included a video (after the recipe) with instructions for reheating all of your leftovers. It’s my first video in a long time, so let me know what you think!
My uncle, my mom’s only sibling, passed away unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. Philip and I were talking about it the other day, about how odd it is when someone you care about passes…how the missing them never leaves, it just gets farther away. That was an apropos topic for this post, because it made me think of my grandmother.
A lot of the recipes that I cook come from a couple of books I have of recipes that my grandmother clipped or wrote down, given to her by family or friends, from magazines or the Chattanooga Times or perhaps the Chattanooga News-Free Press (how many of you Chattanoogans are old enough to remember when CHA had two newspapers? I am, and my grandparents got both-one in the morning, on in the evening-as she was a Democrat and he was a Republican.). I don’t have much else of hers….a strand of pearls and some photos. That’s okay, because the recipes are what are most special to me.
As Philip and I were talking, we were talking about the silly regrets that you have after someone dies. I was fourteen when my grandmother died-that was well over half of my life ago, twenty-two years to be exact. I had no idea before she got sick that I should be hanging in the kitchen with her, soaking in her secrets. Now I wish I had, when my beef stew just doesn’t taste like hers or when I wish I knew the secrets to the handful of recipes I didn’t get. But how could I have known? I didn’t even like cooking until I was an adult.
It’s funny, though, because as much as I wish I had spent time learning from her, I am constantly changing her recipes. She was a lady who lived by measurements, by exact quantities (in both cooking and baking), by precision. While I’m a precise baker, I am by no means a precise cook and I’m forever making adjustments based on what I have in the house or what’s in season or just what sounds good. I wonder how she’d feel about that…she was always encouraging me to break the mold, so I think she’d be cool with it.
With this summer squash casserole, given to her by her neighbor, I’ve taken quite a few liberties. I added zucchini and didn’t mash the squash. Instead of Longhorn cheese, I used the Red Apple white cheddar I had in the fridge. I used red pepper instead of green, and I sautéed the onions and peppers even though the recipe didn’t tell me too. Oh yeah…I used cheese crackers (a la Cheez-its) instead of saltines or Ritz. I don’t regret a thing.
This summer squash casserole was fresh and tasty and made me feel like my grandmother was cooking with me.
Yield: 10-12 servings
15 minPrep Time:
1 hr, 15 Cook Time:
- 1 3/4 pound summer squash (a combination of 6-8 zucchini and yellow crookneck), sliced 1/8-1/4 inch thick
- 1 1/2 cups cracker crumbs (I used Cheez-its, but you can use saltines or Ritz), divided
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 yellow or sweet onion, finely diced
- 1 red pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 1 cup (4 ounces) grated cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the squash and cook for 2-3 minutes, until beginning to become tender. Drain and set aside.
- Combine the milk, eggs, and 1/2 cup of the cracker crumbs in a large bowl. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions and peppers in the bowl until tender. Add the squash, peppers, onions, and cheese to the bowl with the milk and egg mixture. Stir to combine completely. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish.
- Melt the remaining butter. In a small bowl, combine the butter with the remaining cracker crumbs. Sprinkle over the casserole. Bake for one hour. Serve immediately.
Click here to print the recipe for summer squash casserole!