Summer Squash Casserole
“Why don’t you just cook something that tastes really good?” Julia Reed’s mother said that, chiding her daughter, a writer of uncommon style and wit who used to contribute food essays and recipes to The New York Times Magazine. Her mother thought Ms. Reed spent too much time thinking about complicated, over-the-top recipes at the expense of simple, honest American cooking that draws compliments not because it looks amazing, but because it’s delicious. Like, for example, this recipe, for what Julia called in a 2002 article, “the best squash casserole on the planet Earth.” The ingredients are by no means fancy — summer squash, jalapeño, white bread, Ritz crackers, eggs and Cheddar — but they combine in mysterious and marvelous ways to deliver a perfect accompaniment to grilled chicken or a weekend roast.
- Serves: 8 persons
- 7tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the dish
- 2pounds yellow summer squash
- 1large onion, chopped
- 1large clove garlic, chopped
- ½red bell pepper, chopped
- ½green bell pepper, chopped
- 1jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)
- 4slices plain white bread, toasted
- 24Ritz crackers, crushed finely in food processor
- ½pound sharp Cheddar, grated
- 4large eggs, beaten
- ½cup heavy cream
- 1teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼teaspoon ground cayenne
Step 1Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Cut the squash into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cook in boiling, salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Purée in a food processor.
Step 2Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and peppers and cook until just tender. Meanwhile, crumb the toast in a food processor, melt remaining butter and toss together.
Step 3Mix the squash purée, onions, peppers, garlic, cracker crumbs and cheese. Stir in the eggs, cream, sugar and seasonings. Blend well. Pour into the baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and bake until browned, about 40 minutes.