I recently participated in the Thompson family reunion at Hard Labor Creek State Park in Georgia. It was a four-day extravaganza, and it lived up to everything I expected a Southern family reunion to be — appetizers and dips galore, Thompson pulled pork (smoked all day), potato salads, macaroni salads, casseroles, baked beans, deviled eggs, slaw, dump cakes, and more. And last but not least, beer and liquor in all forms. To top off the party, on the final evening we received the happy news of Caroline and Drew’s (Walt’s older brother) engagement, who had been vacationing on Captiva Island.
Upon our return, an immediate celebration was in order. My duties as ordered my Mrs. T were squash casserole and a salad. Mind you, I experienced two varieties of squash casserole in two days of the reunion, both different yet delicious; however, being the rebellious cook that I am, I decided to create my very own perfect version of the dish.
I pulled out about 20 of my favorite community cookbooks, combed the web, and then threw everything I read out the door. All the recipes seemed to mask the delicate flavors of squash with things like eggs and mayo. I wanted to highlight the sweetness of the summer squash found in abundance at my farmers market right now. Using just a few simple ingredients and a generous shake of salt came a casserole out of the kitchen that was better than I could have ever imagined!
It turned out to be all the rage at the engagement party. Not to toot my own horn or anything (Toot! Toot!), but it was the first empty casserole dish and the first cleared off guests’ dinner plates. My only regret is that I didn’t make more!
YELLOW SQUASH CASSEROLE
Source: Nealey Dozier
3 pounds yellow squash, sliced
1 sweet onion (preferably vidalia), chopped
2 – 3 cloves of garlic, minced
6 tablespoons softened butter, divided
1/2 cup light sour cream or greek yogurt, or up to 1 cup as needed
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or more to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 roll of ritz crackers, crushed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large pot of salted water, boil squash until tender, approximately 8 – 1o minutes. Drain squash in a colander, then lay out on paper towels to soak up excess water.
Meanwhile, sweat onions in butter or olive oil until tender. Add garlic and saute for an additional minute.
Combine squash, onions, garlic, 2 tablespoons softened butter, sour cream, and cheddar. Season generously with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour into gratin or baking dish.
Melt remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and combine with ritz crackers. Sprinkle over squash mixture. Bake uncovered for 30 – 35 minutes, or until golden brown. YIELDS: 6 – 8 servings