My Grandmother’s Squash Casserole

My paternal grandmother enjoyed cooking and she had a huge collection of casserole recipes.  This is one of them which I have altered over the years.  The original one called for crookneck squash but that can be difficult to find once the Fall harvest is finished.  To be honest,  I’ve used all kinds of squash and each one offers a slightly different flavor and texture.  The cheese also makes this dish and changing that will alter the flavor, too.  I only bake this casserole for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

According to Wikipedia, squash may have been first cultivated in Central America 8,000 years ago.  It was one of the “Three Sisters” planted by Native Americans.  The Three Sisters consisted of corn, beans and squash.

1) Spaghetti Squash – oval yellow squash contains stringy flesh that, when cooked, separates into mild-tasting, spaghetti-like strands.  Use it like you would pasta with tomato sauce or simply with butter and herbs. Typical weight is 4 to 8 pounds and those on the larger side will have the best flavor and thicker “noodles.”

2) Kabocha Squash – pumpkin-shaped Japanese squash honeyed sweetness and smooth. The green exterior has light green stripes, and the flesh is a pale orange. Drier and denser than most squashes, the kabocha can be baked or steamed, like acorn squash, or pureed to give soups a buttery richness.

3) Hubbard Squash – weighs 8 to 20 pounds and range in color from orange to grayish blue. The yellow flesh is both savory and sweet. The flesh is high in sugar but sometimes mealy, which means it’s best pureed as a pie filling or mashed. A whole squash will keep for up to 6 months in a cool, dry place.

4) Sweet Dumpling Squash – sweet-tasting and resembles a mini pumpkin.  Great for stuffing and baking as individual servings.

5) Butternut Squash – bell-shaped and has a thin skin with a sweet, nutty flesh. Its smooth, thin skin makes it easier to peel than many other squash varieties. For the most abundant flesh, look for butternut squash with a long, thick neck.  Perfect for roasting and soups.

6) Delicata – sometimes known as sweet potato squash because of its creamy flavor (tastes similar to sweet potato).  No peeling necessary and you can eat the skin (roasting and stuffing).

7) Turban Squash – looks like it has a cap on top and is comparable to a buttercup squash.  Use in recipes that call for sugar pumpkin.

9) Carnival Squash – sometimes labeled as acorn squash, can be baked or steamed and great in soups.

You Will Need:
2 lbs. squash, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
2 cups old cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
dry bread crumbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 180c (350f).  Cook squash until tender – easily pierced with a fork.  I usually cook mine in the microwave for about 8 minutes – the time will vary depending on the squash and how thick the pieces are.  Add cooked squash to a bowl and mash.  Add eggs, onion, butter, cheese and mix well.  If dry, add some milk.  If too wet, add some bread crumbs to help hold it together.  Season with salt and pepper and bake in the oven 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  This is a family favorite so much so my son wanted the recipe so he could share with his friends.  Enjoy!