It's fascinating how our sense of smell is so deeply connected to memories. One whiff of a certain dish can transport us back to a place deep in the recesses of our minds. This happened to me recently while making my grandmother's cheesy squash casserole so I could share it avec vous. The instant it started baking au four, I was back in my grandmother's kitchen watching in awe as she pulled this family favorite out of the oven. I hope that this dish will bring you as much satisfaction as it does me (and my entire extended family).
If you'd like to use this as a "twofer" recipe, I have two options for you. First, make it as a side dish as is, and it will serve as your veggie on the side twice. It's just as good reheated, maybe even better, and goes great with all types of protein. Second, you can double this recipe and add cooked sausage to it. Then it becomes a one dish meal you can eat deux fois.
Notes: I've accidentally made it sans the eggs before (ahem, last night), and it's just as good without them. So, if you are out of eggs, do not let that deter you. Also, if you add the seasoning on top of the mayo and then combine it all, I find that helps to better distribute the seasonings through the entire dish.
Bon appétit! My grandmother would be so humbled to have you baking this dish.
French lesson du jour
Avec vous: with you
Au four: in the oven
Deux fois: twice
Marion's Squash Casserole
2 pounds yellow squash, sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup Mayo (my grandmother would insist on Hellman's)
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated (plus about 1 T more for topping)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
Ground pepper to taste
1 T butter, melted
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (or homemade breadcrumbs as my grandmother used)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place squash in a pot, cover with water, add a pinch or two of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn down heat to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes or until tender. Drain well. Return squash to the same pan, add the rest of the ingredients except the butter and breadcrumbs and mix to combine. Pour into a greased 9x9 casserole dish. Mix the melted butter and breadcrumbs together. Top the casserole with the buttered breadcrumbs and then sprinkle on the extra tablespoon of parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. If the breadcrumbs need to brown more, pop under the broil for about a minute but keep a close eye on it so it does not burn.
Et voila! You will have an instant new favorite. Enjoy!