This Gal Cooks

The Perfect Squash Casserole Recipe

le-creuset-heritage-covered-square-casserole-squash-casserole

If you grew up in the South like I did, then you likely have a list of Southern comfort foods – a.k.a. squash casserole – that help you feel close to home. There’s nothing like good ole country home cooking to remind you of who you are and the way the world should be.

Squash casserole always brings back fun memories of family reunions and potluck dinners. I don’t know about you, but I always survey the spread and prioritize what I’m going to fill my plate with first. In my family, the squash casserole and my aunt’s sweet potato casserole with pecan streusel always disappeared quickly. So, if I was going to get any, I had to move with haste.

excess-water-from-squash

MANAGING THE WATER

What I never knew as a kid was that squash casserole is incredibly easy to make!

The ingredients for squash casserole are fairly simple. You probably have most of them in your pantry already. The trick is managing the water, which I’ve noticed a lot of recipes don’t tell you about.

Most squash casserole recipes call for a yellow onion, which is full of water. I like to use a purple shallot instead. They may be small in comparison but are quite pungent. So, you get the onion flavor you need without turning your casserole into soup.

Squash itself also has a high water content. So, after slicing the squash, I cover it in salt and let it sit for a good 30 minutes. I’m always amazed at how much water is sitting in the bottom of the bowl when I go to drain it.

I bet I poured off a good two cups of water when I made this recipe today.

squash-casserole-ready-to-be-served

MAKE IT SOUTHERN!

I always laugh when people claim Southern cooking tastes “just as good” with low-fat ingredients. The whole concept behind Southern cooking is using what’s available on a farm.

That’s why the best squash casserole recipes call for butter, full-fat cheeses, and whole sour cream. These ingredients add a rich flavor that can’t be matched by low-fat alternatives. Sure, you can still make a decent casserole with lower fat ingredients, but I personally prefer to simply enjoy the full-flavored version in moderation.

I also like to add fresh lemon thyme from my garden. Its fragrant aroma fills the whole house. You can substitute regular thyme as well.

squash-casserole-beside-le-creuset-heritage-covered-square-casserole-dish

GET A CASSEROLE DISH WITH A LID

I love to cook. So, it probably won’t surprise you that I enjoy shopping for tools that make cooking more enjoyable. However, I’m also a busy mom of two active boys. That means I have to be careful to purchase stuff that will make my life easier.

Having one or two reliable casserole dishes is essential for me. Ones with lids hold the heat in, which reduces cooking time.

Colors always brighten my day, so I’m always drawn to the beauty of Le Creuset. You’ll notice from the photos that I used the 2.5 quart Le Creuset Heritage Covered Square Casserole dish for my squash casserole.

That said, there are lots of great casserole dishes out there to choose from. Just make sure you get ones that have lids and that distribute heat evenly.

Most recipes call for a 2.5-3 quart or 3.5-4 quart casserole dish. Both 9×9 inches and 9×13 inches are popular sizes.

Enough about shopping though. Let’s talk about the squash casserole you’re gonna make. This will become your go-to side dish for sure.

squash-casserole-ingredients

SQUASH CASSEROLE INGREDIENTS

Filling Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot – avoids water of onion
  • 2 teaspoons of freshly chopped thyme or lemon thyme
  • 3 pounds crookneck yellow squash (7-8 medium yellow squash)
  • 2 tablespoons of salt for removing excess water from squash (Don’t worry, you’ll be rinsing most of it off.)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 ounces of mayonnaise
  • 4 ounces of sour cream
  • 4 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces of shredded parmesan cheese

Topping Ingredients

  • 2 sleeves of Ritz crackers
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter

Notes

In a pinch, corn flakes, panko bread crumbs, or crumbled croutons can be used as a substitute for Ritz crackers.

cutting-crookneck-squash

STEP 1: PREPARE THE SQUASH

Slice the squash and put it in a large bowl. Then, sprinkle the squash with plenty of salt. You’ll want to stir it up to make sure the salt coats all of the squash.

After 30 minutes, rinse the squash with cold water and pat dry. This step will remove a considerable amount of moisture and prevent a soggy casserole.

If you never seem to have a sharp knife when you need one, check out Zyliss knives. Ever since I got these affordable knives a few years ago, the expensive knives I received as a wedding gift have mostly gone unused.

saute-the-shallots-and-lemon-thyme

STEP 2: SAUTÉ THE SHALLOTS & LEMON THYME

Preheat the oven to 350 ºF. While it’s preheating, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat on your stovetop. Add in your shallots and lemon thyme. Sauté for 1-3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

saute-the-squash

STEP 3: SAUTÉ THE SQUASH

Add in the squash and black pepper. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the liquid is released. Remove from heat and drain off any excess liquid.

squash-casserole-filling

STEP 4: PREPARE THE FILLING

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and mayonnaise.

Combine the cooked squash and shallot mixture with the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and mayonnaise mixture.

Add in the cheddar and parmesan cheeses. Then stir the mixture well.

STEP 5: FILL THE CASSEROLE DISH

Transfer the filling into the casserole dish. It should be no more than 80% full. If you have more filling than that, set it aside. Having a little extra is always better than cleaning your oven because a casserole overflowed. Believe me… I know!

STEP 6: BAKE THE SQUASH CASSEROLE

Bake covered for 15 minutes. While the casserole is baking, crush two sleeves of Ritz crackers and pour into a medium-sized mixing bowl. If you don’t know what to reach for, a rolling pin makes a great club for crushing!

Melt the butter for the topping and then combine it with the cracker crumbs. When your timer goes off, remove the casserole from the oven and cover it with the cracker crumb mixture. You’ll need potholders for each side since it’s a bit heavy.

Bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes or until the casserole is golden brown on top. Don’t overcook the casserole, else you’ll end up with mush. Fork an edge to confirm that squash is tender.

STEP 7: LET THE SQUASH CASSEROLE FINISH SETTING

When you pull your squash casserole out of the oven it will continue cooking for a few minutes. You’re best to wait at least 15 minutes before serving. That will allow enough time for the casserole to finish setting. You’ll end up with nice-looking wedges that don’t spill over into other side dishes.

Bon appétit!

 

one-serving-of-squash-casserole

The Perfect Squash Casserole Recipe

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Squash casserole always brings back fun memories of family reunions and potluck dinners. In my family, the squash casserole always disappeared quickly, so if I was going to get any, I had to move with haste!

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot – avoids water of onion
  • 2 teaspoons of freshly chopped thyme or lemon thyme
  • 3 pounds crookneck yellow squash (7-8 medium yellow squash)
  • 2 tablespoons of salt for removing excess water from squash
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 ounces of mayonnaise
  • 4 ounces of sour cream
  • 4 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 sleeves of Ritz crackers
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter

Instructions

    1. Slice the squash and put it in a large bowl. Then, sprinkle the squash with plenty of salt. You’ll want to stir it up to make sure the salt coats all of the squash. After 30 minutes, rinse the squash with cold water and pat dry. This step will remove a considerable amount of moisture and prevent a soggy casserole.
    2. Preheat the oven to 350 ºF. While it’s preheating, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat on your stovetop. Add in your shallots and lemon thyme. Sauté for 1-3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
    3. Add in the squash and black pepper. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the liquid is released. Remove from heat and drain off any excess liquid.
    4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Combine the cooked squash and shallot mixture with the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and mayonnaise mixture. Add in the cheddar and parmesan cheeses. Then stir the mixture well.
    5. Transfer the filling into the casserole dish. It should be no more than 80% full. If you have more filling than that, set it aside. Having a little extra is always better than cleaning your oven because a casserole overflowed. Believe me… I know!
    6. Bake covered for 15 minutes. While the casserole is baking, crush two sleeves of Ritz crackers and pour into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Melt the butter for the topping and then combine it with the cracker crumbs. When your timer goes off, remove the casserole from the oven and cover it with the cracker crumb mixture. You'll need potholders for each side since it's a bit heavy. Bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes or until the casserole is golden brown on top. Fork an edge to confirm that squash is tender.
    7. When you pull your squash casserole out of the oven it will continue cooking for a few minutes. You’re best to wait at least 15 minutes before serving. That will allow enough time for the casserole to finish setting. You’ll end up with nice-looking wedges that don’t spill over into other side dishes.

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