It took me years to develop a squash casserole that I thought was utterly delicious. Every Southern girl has one because by August the crooknecks are practically bashing down the door to get into your house. There are three essential ingredients. The squash, of course, which really becomes a somewhat bland base for the other flavors to stand on. Then there’s my best friend, Velveeta. Other cheeses don’t have the melting quality of Velveeta. And then there’s Ritz crackers. No substitution.
The recipe is really more of a procedure depending on how many squash you have. Here it is. First, peel the squash. That’s right. The skin is edible but you don’t want rings of squash in the casserole and the skin will never cook down. So peel it off with a vegetable peeler. If they’re big squash, spoon out the seeds. Cut them into chucks and put into a microwavable container with a little water. Nuke ’em until they’re totally soft. At the same time, saute some chopped onion in butter until it begins to brown.
Now, drain the squash and put it in a bowl. Use a potato masher to get it as smooth as possible. Add in the onions, one egg (for about three largish squash), half a sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers, salt and pepper. Now give it just a pinch of sugar.
Cut about three slices of Velveeta and cube it up. Add it to the squash mixture. Pour it in a casserole and top with more crushed Ritz crackers and drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
My book editor (Handy Mom’s Guide to Grilling) would just kill me for the recipe I just gave you. She treasures precision. But I’ve come to the conclusion that precision can be the biggest enemy of the cook because you can’t really quantify some things. What are three “large” squash? Maybe you like a lot of onions but the recipe just calls for half a cup. The easiest way to tell if you’ve added enough of this or that is to look at the squash mixture in the bowl. If it looks good it’s probably right.
And as to the Velveeta, you leave it in cubes because when the squash comes out of the oven and you serve it up the cheese melts like golden nuggets as you cut into the casserole. So bad and yet so good.