Have you ever had the dilemma of too much summer squash in your vegetable bin? We’ve all been there! Recently, I shared a story about my mom and one summer when she overplanted summer squash in her garden. In a nutshell, we ate it every night, and yes, there really is too much of a good thing! But on the nights when she would make her Southern style squash casserole, I melted back into loving this seasonal veggie.
The trick to using up too much of anything is to stuff it into a casserole. Home cooks have used this trick for generations. A casserole is homey, it’s savory, and usually it involves some cheese. What made my mom’s version Southern was her liberal use of Duke’s mayonnaise–the only brand a good Southerner would use. She would dollop big spoonfuls on top of each layer of squash. It was tasty.
Fast forward to my own kitchen, and I decided we could cut down on that heavy hand with the mayo but still hold true to my mom’s simple but heavenly dish. My trick is to thin it out with two lemons. Squash naturally release a lot of moisture when cooking, so I was able to keep the moist texture, and by keeping the cheese and sauteed onion layers in my version, it is still packed with flavor without feeling heavy or greasy. Sorry, mom. Mayo is another condiment that really has a limit!
This summer, when you’re scratching your head for how to help your family love all that fresh produce you just brought back from your local farmer’s market, count on my mom’s casserole, version 2.0. It’s a lovely side dish for any summer meal.
- Vidalia onions, 2
- Yellow squash, 4
- Zucchini, 4
- Lemons, 2
- Parmesan cheese, grated, 8 oz
- Olive oil, 2 tablespoons
- Salt, 2 teaspoons (divided)
- Black pepper, 1 teaspoon
- Mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons
- Garlic powder, 1-2 tablespoons
- Take 5 minutes to get out all your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment needed, and place them on a cookie sheet within easy reach.
- Wash all produce.
- Preheat oven to 400F, and get out your favorite casserole dish. We use one that is 9x13.
- Cut vidalia onions into small dice and set aside.
- Cut the summer squash and zucchini into thin rounds. Keep the colors separate, so you can layer them in the casserole. Note: if you have a mandoline, this prep will go by even quicker.
- Grate parmesan cheese on the bigger holes of a cheese grater. Set aside.
- Zest and juice the 2 lemons. Mix them with the mayonnaise, and set aside.
- Sauté diced onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt on medium-high heat for about three minutes. Set aside.
- In the casserole dish, start to layer the ingredients. First, start with a layer of the squash and zucchini. You can be creative with how you want them to be layered. We put two rows of zucchini on either side with a wide row of squash down the middle.
- Next, top the squash and zucchini with a sprinkle of garlic powder, salt and pepper, and sautéed onions, a few splashes of the lemon and mayonnaise mixture, and a good covering of parmesan cheese. Remember, you’ll be dividing these ingredients for each layer, which why we’re suggesting a little bit per layer.
- Keep layering in the order described above until you run out of squash. Make sure the final layer has a good covering of cheese.
- Cover with tin foil and bake at 400F for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil, turn down the heat to 375F and continue baking another 15 minutes to help reduce down some of the juices and brown the top.
- Let cool slightly before cutting. This casserole, like most, is even better on days two and three!
Read more about Hollie