Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cheesy squash casserole, and some acknowledgements...

This Thanksgiving weekend comes to a close, and I hope you and your loved ones were able to celebrate in one way or another, the things you are grateful for in your lives.
I wanted to share this yellow squash casserole that has been my contribution to the Thanksgiving meal we go to, for the past few years, and every year, it is a hit. I realize I probably should have posted this a week ago, but I figured this is a vegetable dish you can make for a family meal (makes great leftovers) or other holiday celebrations. When I discovered American cuisine, I really fell in love with casseroles, not unsimilar to the French gratins which are definitely a comfort food for me.
In French, the translation for the word “grateful” is “reconnaissant”, which literally translates into “acknowledging” or “recognizing”. It’s an interesting nuance, emphasizing that before you can be grateful for anything, you must acknowledge it. It’s the process phase of gratitude, as opposed to the result.  That’s been on my mind lately, this idea that life is nothing but process. So I wanted to make some acknowledgements, simple, with no buts. No caveats. Just some fundamentals I sometimes take for granted.

Today, I acknowledge...

that I am alive, my body functions, my heart beats, I can breathe, I can walk, I can perceive the world with my five senses;

that I love;

that I am loved;

that I can take care of myself;

that I can feel and share joy;

that I can survive hardships and sorrow;

that I live and embrace my two cultures;

that I can learn and improve;

that I can express what I think, and how I feel;

that I can see beauty and feel awe;

that I can see ugliness, and move on;

that I can nurture;

that I can make things to nourish myself and the ones I love;

that I can share my journey here with you.


Two Cheese Squash Casserole

Inspired from Southern Living May 2004

Serves 8-10

Age for babies: 10-12 months as long as baby has had every ingredient previously.

Prep time: 25 mn
Cook time: 10 mn + 40 mn

4 lbs yellow squash, peeled and sliced
4 tbsp butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup + 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (I use whole wheat)
3/4 cup + 1/2 cup Pecorino cheese (may be substituted with Parmesan)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
8 oz of crème fraîche (or sour cream)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp garlic salt

Preheat the oven at 350°F. Grease a large baking dish with butter.

Boil a large pot of water and cook the squash in boiling water for 8-10 minutes, until just tender.

Drain the squash. Line a colander with a kitchen towel and put the squash in it, squeezing gently to drain the extra liquid. Let drain for 5 minutes.

In a large pot (I use a round Dutch oven), melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté 5 to 6 minutes until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in squash, 1 cup of breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup Pecorino, the cheddar, chives, parsley, crème fraîche, salt, pepper and eggs, stirring every time you add one ingredient.

In a small sauce pan or in the microwave, melt 2 tbsp of butter. Stir together melted butter, 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup Pecorino and garlic salt. Sprinkle mixture over the top of the casserole.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden on top.

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  1. That sounds wonderful. I am thinking butternut squash would be too sweet for this dish though?

    1. Thanks so much, Jacqueline. You could, but it would definitely be a very different dish, much sweeter and heartier, yellow squash being pretty light and watery like zucchini.

  2. This is such a lovely post. Often we all forget to take time out to appreciate what we do have. Love casseroles too because they are so easy and you can't really go wrong. Excuse the noob here though, but what is the main difference between a french gratin and an american casserole? They are both oven baked dishes usually of layers of veg with a creamy/cheesy

    1. Thanks Shu Han! They are very similar, oven baked, but for example the French version of this casserole would be layering the veggies and pouring some sauce (bechamel type) over it, adding maybe some breacrumbs and cheese on top, whereas the American casserole will often mix a bunch of stuff all together and then pour and bake. There seems to be more ingredients involved in casseroles generally. A slight difference in approach I guess... Same idea though.

  3. Hello Helene, I absolutely adore your blog. Would this recipe work with courgette instead of yellow squash which is much harder to come by in Ireland. Thanks x

    1. Hi Clare, thank you so much! You could definitely use courgette instead, I would only peel them partially, leaving a few strips of skin on it, and make sure to drain them really well in an absorbent kitchen towel, as I think they are slightly more moist than the yellow squash. Let me know how you like it!


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