Smashing squash is a real thing. I did not invent it, but I wish I could take credit. I learned about the dish from my aunt via Marjorie Standish and her treasured Cooking Down East, a standard in many Maine kitchens for decades. (Now, it is possible that the recipe was in Keep Cooking – The Maine Way by the same author, since my recipe is scribbled on a 10 year old scrap of paper, but the Cooking Down East is arguably the more popular and well-known of Mrs. Standish’s books. So I am giving the credit there.) Mrs. Standish published a recipe column for years in the Portland Press Herald and shared family recipes of her own as well as some from readers; growing up, I thought she was like Julia Child. Her dishes tend toward homemade, family-friendly, straightforward fare and smashing squash is pure 1960′s-era casserole comfort food. It will make you want to call your grandmother. It will make anti-summer squash folks like my husband take a second scoop at dinner. Smashing squash is gooey and creamy and so delicious, I make it at least once each summer and then dream about it for the rest of the year.
Practically, smashing squash is a nice way to use up a good chunk of plentiful summer squash. I added brown rice one year to make a heartier stand-alone casserole and thought it tasted really nice. I added basil one year and that was good, too. But really, smashing squash is good just as-is. My version replaces the condensed cream of mushroom soup used in the cookbook, but you could certainly use a can of soup mix as Mrs. Standish did– you’ll just need to take out 3 T. butter, all the mushrooms, flour and milk/cream, and some of the salt in my recipe. (I believe she used more bread crumbs, too.) Every time I give this recipe to a friend with an abundance of squash at home, I hear back with rave reviews, so I am excited to share it with you today. New England friends especially, comment if you’ve had smashing squash before!
Smashing Squash (adapted from Marjorie Standish)
- 6 T. unsalted butter, divided
- 1 c. mushrooms (cremini, button or similar), diced
- 2 T. flour
- 1 c. whole milk or cream
- salt & pepper
- 1 lb. yellow summer squash, sliced thin*
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1/2 medium onion, grated (about 1/4 c. grated onion)
- 1/2 c. sour cream
- 1 1/3 c. bread cubes, plain or seasoned (stuffing/dressing mix works well)
If you are making the creamy mushroom sauce from scratch, start there. In a small saucepan, heat 3 T. of butter until melted; add the diced mushrooms to the pan and cook over medium heat for 3-4 mins. until softened and starting to brown. Sprinkle the mushrooms with flour and stir to coat; cook for an additional minute to dissipate some of the unwanted raw flour flavor. Slowly stir in the milk or cream and cook over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens. Season with salt & pepper to taste; add a splash more milk if the sauce is too thick. You should have about 1 1/2 to 2 c. sauce when finished. Set the pan aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 2 qt. casserole dish or equivalent. In a large pan of lightly-salted boiling water, cook the sliced squash for 3-4 mins., just to soften slightly. Drain and set aside.
In another small saucepan, melt the remaining 3 T. butter. Toss the bread cubes with the butter and set aside.
In a large bowl, gently toss together the cooked summer squash, grated carrot and grated onion. Add the mushroom sauce, sour cream and about one quarter of the bread cubes (eyeball, don’t measure) and gently fold together. Season conservatively (even more so if you used seasoned bread cubes or condensed cream of mushroom soup) and pour the mixture into your prepared pan. Top with the remaining bread cubes. Bake for 25-30 mins. until heated through. Serve immediately. Smashing squash is delicious left over; I have been known to eat it cold.
*This recipe accommodates up to 2 lbs. squash with no additional changes, but is not as creamy and rich as it is when made with the quantities above.