I believe there are two camps where squash casserole is concerned: the camp that likes their squash casserole with identifiable chunks of squash and the camp that prefers their squash casserole to be almost the consistency of cornbread dressing. I am in the later camp.
I have already held forth on the abundance of zucchini in the Southern summer and that at some point polite people avert their eyes when they see a neighbor coming with a bag of zucchini so as not to make eye contact. It is the exact same thing with crookneck squash. Southerners feel compelled to grow crookneck squash even though, in their heart of hearts, they don’t like it. Crookneck squash is a bland, watery vegetable. That’s just a fact. Not only do Southerners grow it in abundance, but they “put it up” so that they can be reminded of how much they hate it in December.
So the only answer to the challenge of using up crookneck squash is to disguise it. Thus, the ubiquitous squash casserole. You cannot go to Sunday supper anywhere in the South during the summer without encountering it. Some, as I’ve said, prefer it kind of chunky. But I feel that only highlights the shortcomings of crookneck squash. I prefer to disguise it completely.
For my squash casserole, I like to grate the squash and then fry it with the onion in butter until it just begins to brown. That browning gives it some extra flavor. Then – and here’s the secret – I mix the squash with Ritz cracker crumbs and Velveeta cubes. Shameless, I know. But here’s the thing. When you take that casserole out of the oven and spoon some on your plate, the Velveeta oozes out of the casserole! How can you not love that? As with almost everything in Southern cooking, I have taken an essentially healthy ingredient and made it unhealthy. And I’m not at all ashamed about it.
4 cups seeded grated crookneck squash
½ medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, diced
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter
24 Ritz crackers, crushed
4 ounces Velveeta, cubed
1 egg, beaten
Melt the butter in a sauté pan and add the squash and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat until the squash begins to brown. Put the squash and onions into a bowl and add the Velveeta cubes. Then add 2/3 of the cracker crumbs and the egg. Mix thoroughly.
Put squash mixture into a casserole dish, sprinkle with remaining cracker crumbs, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.