|Summer squash - zucchini, crookneck or a mixture of the two will work - is briefly stewed in onion, garlic & cream, mixed with leftover cooked rice, topped with a Parmesan breadcrumb and baked to a crispy golden brown.|
Summer Squash and Rice GratinAs I watched The Cajun shovel this in with our meal, y'all know I had to grin, but he caught me peeking at him! "I know," he says, "what is it?" "It's food," I say, grinning. "Just eat it." He did! Every, single, speck of it. That says a lot y'all, coming from a non-veggie eating man.
This was a delicious side dish that I adapted from Real Cajun, a cookbook that you may recall I recently reviewed. The photography in this cookbook is simply incredible, so much so that as the book lay by my chair on the floor, my youngest cat was convinced that the crab claw poking out of the gumbo on the cover was a real crab. I wish you could have seen him inching and backing off from the book, and finally reaching out and carefully patting at it multiple times with his paw, only then convinced it was just a photo! If you're a cat owner, this behavior makes complete sense to you.
If you're from this area of The South and don't yet own this cookbook, and especially if you enjoy collecting them for the photos and stories, as much as for the recipes, this is one you'll probably want to add to your collection.
This gratin, a term used simply to describe a browned crust topping of some kind, often breadcrumbs, but sometimes other crusty toppings, was fantastic and a great way to present some of that abundant summer squash. In fact, although I did increase the squash a little bit from the original recipe, next time I think I'd like to try to double the basic squash casserole portion of the ingredients (but not the topping) just so that I can squeeze in more squash.
To make this gratin we'll start off with some bacon. Nothing wrong with that! In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, cook the bacon until slightly browned, but tender and not crisp. Add the onion, salt, pepper and thyme; cook for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, cook another minute. Add the squash.
Cook and stir mixture for another 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock.
Add the cream and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, but do not allow the mixture to boil. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool down for at least 15 minutes.
Time to preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Set that aside for now. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, add the olive oil and mix well; set that aside.
Combine the cooked rice with the cooled squash. I used some leftover Cajun rice - that recipe will be up soon, but you can find the basics of it here on this Cajun Shrimp Pilaf dish. I just omitted the shrimp.
Stir in the beaten eggs and mix. Turn out into the prepared baking pan. Don't worry that the mixture looks very wet - it will bind as it cooks.
Evenly sprinkle the top with the breadcrumb mixture and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, let rest a few minutes and enjoy!
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Adapted from Real Cajun
Recipe: Summer Squash and Rice Gratin©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Active time: 40 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 6 to 8 servings
- 3 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 crookneck squash, cut into chunks (about 3 cups)
- 1-1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup plain, unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups cooked rice
- 3 medium eggs, lightly beaten
In a deep skillet or Dutch oven, cook the bacon until slightly browned, but tender and not crisp. Add the onion, salt, pepper and thyme; cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another minute. Add the squash and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock and cream and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not allow mixture to boil. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool down for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and olive oil; set aside. Add the cooled squash to the rice, stir and mix in the beaten eggs; turn out into the prepared baking pan. Mixture will be wet, but will bind as it cooks. Evenly sprinkle the top with the breadcrumb mixture and bake at 350 degrees F, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
Cook's Note: Can also substitute zucchini, or use a combination of summer squash.
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