Summer is finally starting to wind down, and thank goodness for that! I have to apologize for neglecting the blog for so long. For the most part, cooking this summer has been mostly repeats of favorites, coupled with a lack of enthusiasm for standing in a hot kitchen. Even grilling has gone by the wayside, since stepping outside into the oppressive heat and humidity while fending off swarms of blood-sucking mosquitoes is not enjoyable. However the last few days have started off, at least, as blessedly cool and less humid…just the touch of the coming autumn weather that I needed to get some energy back!
I’ve had this recipe for squash casserole since the early 80’s, when it was passed around from co-workers at UNC-Hospitals. It’s another dish that falls in the “comfort food” zone, and typical of many casseroles, it contains a can of condensed cream of chicken soup. I haven’t used this recipe in ages, because Campbell’s soups are not on our list of foods that are good for you. There is the gluten issue, as well as preservatives, and artificial colors and flavorings. I could, of course, make my own cream of chicken soup from scratch, but that just seems like too much work for one ingredient in a casserole. Then I spotted something different in the soup aisle – Pacific Natural Foods Organic Cream Of Chicken Condensed Soup. It doesn’t mention it on the front of the box, but this soup is also gluten-free and soy-free, as well as being USDA Organic. I picked up a couple to see how they would adapt in casseroles.
Upon opening the box (which does not even require scissors due to a handy tab), the first sight of the soup is not that good. Its consistency is kind of jelly-like, but to be fair, Campbell’s condensed soups aren’t much to look at either. Getting beyond that, when it is mixed in with the other ingredients and baked, the results were perfect! I didn’t try it on its own as a soup, but I can certainly recommend it for anyone that wants a healthier option for condensed soup. Here are the ingredients listed on the box:
organic chicken broth
organic creme fraiche
organic rice starch
organic cooked chicken
organic rice flour
organic chicken fat
organic garlic powder
organic onion powder
Back to the squash – I adapted the original recipe to reduce the amount of bread crumbs (it originally used packaged “stuffing”), to take out the gluten, and to add some seasonings for taste. I especially like the raw shredded carrots in this recipe, since they add so much color and texture to the finished casserole. I usually made this with yellow, crookneck squash, but used zucchini this time. This dish is great with roasted meats, and also would be good on a holiday table.
- 4 cups squash, cut into large dice
- 1 sweet onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter (preferably grass-fed)
- 2 cups shredded carrots (~2 large or 3 medium-sized carrots)
- 1 12-ounce box condensed soup (cream of chicken, celery, or mushroom)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs (make your own gluten- and grain-free bread or muffins, if possible)
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon Ratatouille Seasoning (or seasoning blend of choice)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- a few dashes of fish sauce (optional)
- 1 cup gluten-free/grain-free bread crumbs (for topping – see above)
- 2 tablespoons butter (for topping)
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter a 2.5 quart casserole dish.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, steam or cook the squash in boiling water for 5-10 minutes (long enough for it to be tender, but not falling apart). Drain squash into a colander; set aside.
Using the same (dry) pan, saute the onion in 2 tablespoons of butter until soft.
In a large bowl, mix together the well-drained squash, onion, carrots, condensed soup, sour cream , Parmesan cheese, egg, thyme, Ratatouille seasoning, fish sauce, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Pour into the buttered casserole dish.
Using the same pan, again, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and mix with the remaining cup of bread crumbs. Scatter evenly over the squash mixture in the casserole.
Bake, uncovered, for about 1 hour, until bubbly and hot throughout, and browned on top. Serve hot.
So good to be back! Got a great selection today, a compilation of some of the nastiest, gritty funky stuff you’ll ever hear. It’s a new release from Light In The Attic called Country Funk 1969-75, and boy, it doesn’t lie in the title! From Link Wray doing “Fire And Brimstone” to the great Bobby Charles and “Street People”, this is a great look at folks that don’t get a lot of attention. Tony Joe White, Dale Hawkins, even Mac Davis with “Lucas Was a Redneck”, it don’t get much better than this. Get funky!