Monday, June 07, 2010

Yellow Squash Time

Quite a bit of rain this weekend but still plenty of time to garden (just not enough to mow the lawn). The yellow squash is starting to come in and that means it is time for a Southern treat. I have eaten this casserole in the first couple of weeks of June my whole life and as the yellow squash appear it's the first thing I think of. Every Southern family probably has its own recipe but I like the following. If you can try it with Vidalia onions it is extra special good. It is also important to use smaller squash as they get 'seedy' when they get too old. Tradtitionally my family used Ritz crackers for the topping but since they are now made with HFCS I just use breadcrumbs instead. I might also note that it was not uncommon to use process cheese(Velveeta), the kind that came free from the USDA, instead of Cheddar. It was the cheese available and it was free. Even though I am a bit of a food snob I am not sure I would refuse to eat a casserole made with it but I do prefer a good Cheddar.

Squash casserole

3 pounds yellow squash, sliced about 1/8 inch thick, a mandolin helps here
5 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup) A Vidalia onion if you can get it
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup mayonnaise ( use a good mayo like Hellman's)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 scant teaspoons Kosher salt
3/4 cup bread crumbs (if you don't mind the HFCS you can use crushed Ritz crackers which is the traditional topping and you'll need about 20 crackers)

Blanch sliced squash in boiling water for about 5  minutes or just until tender. Drain well; gently press between paper towels to remove the excess moisture.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in skillet over medium-high heat; add onion, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Remove skillet from heat; stir in squash, cheese, and next 4 ingredients. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish.
Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Stir together melted butter and bread crumbs(or crushed crackers) and sprinkle evenly over top of casserole.
Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until set.

Note: This recipe also works for 'patty pan' squash and zucchini but yellow(crookneck) squash is the tradition. 

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