Summer Vegetable Bake

I guess I should lead off by saying this title is a little misleading. Really, it should read “Many Varieties of Squash Bake”, because that’s what it is. When I first got the idea for this dish, I wanted to use several different types of vegetables – squash, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes…but when I actually started to work on the recipe, I decided I wanted to stick with squash instead.

squash 2

Squash is one of my favorite summer vegetables – or rather, I guess the summer squash varieties are…which is a pretty obvious statement and therefore unnecessary? I actually just googled “squash” to look at all the different varieties, and I found out that while squash is typically broken out into four categories, here in the US we just split it into two – winter squash and summer squash. Sounds good to me! And for the record, I love winter squash just as much as summer squash. Butternut, acorn, spaghetti…I make some sort of dish with squash probably once a week at least. But I digress. When I think of summer squash, I think of the traditional yellow squash, green zucchini, pattypan squash (which I didn’t use this time around)…and then I also used chayote squash, but I don’t really know where that fits in.

squash 3

But anyway, let’s talk about why I love summer squash so much. Mostly it’s because it’s really easy to use and really versatile. I use it in so many different ways – diced up and sauteed in scrambled eggs, tossed with olive oil and spices and roasted in the oven, added to skewers or kebabs, sliced and grilled…the list goes on. Therefore during the summer months, I almost always have at least one variety of squash in my refrigerator, at all times. And as it just so happened, I had three varieties of squash in my fridge, once I found the chayote squash mentioned below, which led to this perfect buttery-nutty-somewhat cheesy vegetable side to die for.

squash 1

As I said earlier, for this dish I used green zucchini, summer squash, and chayote squash, which I was only recently introduced to. (Read: my uncle made it at our family picnic this past weekend, and I loved it.) When I found some at my home grocery store I was stoked – and as I already mentioned, that’s sort of when my summer vegetable bake turned into my many varieties of squash bake. It was pretty simple to make – which for anyone who has read this blog at all knows is a huge bonus for me. First I used my mandoline to slice all the squash in uniform slices. Then I diced a red onion and sauteed it with some garlic and ghee and set that aside. In a baking dish, I layered the squash with some of the onion and garlic mixture, sprinkled on some rosemary and a little extra melted ghee, then continued to layer until I ran out of squash. I topped my veggies with a mixture of pecan meal and parmesan cheese – can I tell you just how much in love I am with pecan meal? You may remember it from these crab cakes. It was a perfect substitute for breadcrumbs in this dish, and it gave the crust on top a nutty crunch that I fell in love with. I baked the whole thing in the oven at 375 for 45 minutes, until the squash was soft and buttery. I loved the extra pop the rosemary gave to the veggies, although next time I make this I might do it with fresh basil…fresh basil makes EVERYTHING better.

squash collage

Well, what are you waiting for? Go make this!

What’s your favorite variety of squash? What’s your favorite squash dish to make?

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