Cheesy, summer squash! Loads of zucchini in the best lighter fare comfort food dish.
Summer’s in full swing and I’ve made this Summer Squash Casserole a bunch so far this year when I’m out for dinner with friends and my family needs a premade dinner or we’re rushing to get packed up for a holiday and I want a dish I can bank on the entire family liking (without complaints – even my cheese hating kid likes this!).
Plus, it makes enough that we can divide it in half eat, to one half the day I make it and either freeze the rest or save it for eating later on in the week.
We’re currently on holidays which is giving me gardening anxiety. A lot of my summer vegetables, including zucchini seemed as though it was ready to ripen exactly while we were away.
I hope our neighbour kindly collecting our mail also snags the ripe veggies and enjoys them while we’re away.
I know a lot of people are often looking for good zucchini recipes at this time of year to use up the abundance in their gardens. Late summer (it feels way too soon!) usually means loads of summer squash and zucchini.
Here in Osoyoos, there’s gorgeous summer squash everywhere I look! I really should make this up here.
This casserole is like the perfect summer comfort food – pasta, loads of cheese, and yet still packed with seasonal goodness. And when your kids inhale it as well, you get on-board pretty quickly.
I had originally posted about this recipe over on Peaks & Harbours sometime ago, but I wanted to switch it up and give it a new one pot face-lift with less steps to save time (it is summer after all). I’m not one to post a lot about casseroles so when I do you know it’s good! My other casserole to date is this Enchilada Quinoa Casserole which is super yummy!
Cheesy, summer squash casserole! Loads of zucchini and summer squash in the best lighter fare comfort food casserole! Wholesome goodness!
- 1 lbs (454 grams) pasta, any shape will do, but think bow-tie, penne, etc.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lbs (454 grams) ground chicken, turkey or pork
- 1 medium yellow (cooking) onion
- 1 1/2 lbs (657 grams) summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced thin (about 1/4" thick)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
- 1/8-1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, less if kids are eating this dish (makes it spicy)
- 1 1/2 cups milk, whole 3.25% or 2%
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
- 3 tbsp inely chopped mixed herbs of your choice (such as thyme, oregano, basil and mint. I used 1/2 tbsp fresh basil and thyme and 1 tsp dried oregano. Use dried if you need to, just reduce the overall amount as dried is stronger)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan or aged pecorino romano cheese, divided (optional*)
- 4 oz. (115 grams) mozzarella, cut into small cubes or sliced
In a large pot, cook the pasta according to package directions, stopping 2 minutes before the directed time. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400° F.
In the same large pot (or using a different one to save cooking time), heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ground meat and cook, stirring and breaking up with the back of a wooden spoon. Add chopped onion after 3-4 minutes and cook until meat is browned through and onion has softened, about 3-4 minutes longer. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Add squash and cook, stirring only 1-2 times until squash is browned. Add garlic and pinch of red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Add lemon juice.
Add butter and once melted, sprinkle with flour and stir to coat meat and squash. Very slowly, add milk (as in 1-2 tbsp to start with) and stir in so flour absorbs the milk., until all milk has been fixed with flour and a thick sauce is created.
Stir in all herbs (reserving 2 tbsp parsley) and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add pasta and stir into squash mixture. Add 1/2 cup parmesan and mix to combine. (Add mozzarella here and mix in, or slice it and place on top before baking for a cheesy topping).
Place all ingredients in a large (or two small) casserole dishes and sprinkle with remaining parmesan and parsley. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until top has browned.
To freeze: let cool to room temperature and wrap well before transfer to freezer.
To reheat from frozen: let defrost overnight in fridge and reheat in oven at 325° F for 20-30 minutes.
* I skip the parmesan in the dish as I have a child who strongly dislikes cheese. I do however, LOVE this dish with the parmesan in it. If you have some and like cheese, I'd highly recommend giving it a go.