|Fresh squash and tomatoes are paired with Vidalia onion and sweet bell peppers, topped with cheese and buttered bread crumbs and baked.|
Squash CreoleVidalia onions, okra, vine ripe tomatoes and green beans, freshly shucked corn, butter beans, southern peas and sweet bell peppers, yellow crookneck squash, zucchini and garden fresh cucumbers. I just love the veggies of summer. Have you gotten your fill yet?
Now... to be honest, we southerners don't stop enjoying our hearty casseroles, chicken and dumplings, pot pies, roasts or even soups and gumbo, just because Mother Nature calls up scorching summer heat. I know. We're a bit crazy like that.
But, it's these beautiful summer vegetables at their flavor peak right now that really draw us in, and I try to find as many ways to enjoy them as I possibly can before summer is gone. In fact, it is not at all unusual that we southerners make a complete meal out of nothing but garden vegetables - with a little sweet tea and cornbread on the side, of course.
Since The Cajun doesn't have the same love of vegetables that I do, this is pretty much a main dish meal for me. To be perfectly honest, that works out just fine because with fresh summer squash, sweet Vidalia onions, garden fresh tomatoes and sweet bell pepper, it is right at the top of my favorites.
Starting with a saute in the skillet, the dish benefits from a quick bake, and once I turn it out into a casserole dish, I top it with some cheese, usually cheddar, but certainly use whatever your favorite cheese happens to be. This time I used pepper jack and I loved the spicy kick it gave.
I also like to finish with a buttered bread crumb topping, and while plain dry or fresh bread crumbs are great, panko is also excellent to finish the dish, as are crushed saltines or Ritz crackers. It is equally delicious when made with cabbage. You'll need about 5 cups of rough chopped cabbage, but let it cook just a tad bit longer - about 10 minutes - before adding the tomatoes and remaining ingredients.
It's a wonderful side dish, very simple to make, and one that really highlights the overflowing bounty of fresh squash and tomatoes available right now. Frankly, you may want to double it because it only tastes better the next day.
Here's how to make it.
Recipe: Squash Creole©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1/2 cup of chopped Vidalia onion
- 1/2 cup of chopped green bell pepper
- 2-1/2 pounds of summer squash, sliced or chopped
- 3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
- Cajun seasoning, to taste, optional
- 1 cup of shredded cheese
- 1 tablespoon of butter, melted
- 1/4 cup of bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 1-1/2 quart baking dish and set aside. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, add onion and bell pepper and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the squash and cook until it begins to soften. Add the tomatoes, sugar, flour, salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning; toss to blend. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the the shredded cheese of your choice, combine the melted butter and bread crumbs and distribute crumbs evenly on top. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until squash is tender. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.
Cabbage Creole: Substitute 5 cups of roughly chopped cabbage, adding it after you saute the other vegetables, and cooking it about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and remaining ingredients, turn out into the casserole dish, top with cheese and bake until tender.
Cook's Notes: Saute some bacon before adding the butter and and veggies, for added flavor. Use your favorite shredded cheese. I typically use Cheddar but this time I added pepper jack. Use dry, fresh or panko buttered bread crumbs, or crushed saltines or buttery crackers.
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