Do you remember squash casserole? If you’re from the South, it’s likely you’ve had it before (or quite often) – a cheesy, buttery, creamy casserole filled with squash that has been cooked within an inch of its life, topped with buttery crumbs. I didn’t grow up eating such a casserole (my parents aren’t from the South), but I definitely enjoyed it a time or two, typically in local diners that also served other Southern favorites, such as fried okra, chicken-fried steak, collard greens (with lots of ham or bacon), grits, and lots of biscuits and gravy. While tasty, it’s definitely not something that is friendly on the waistline or to those of us with gluten and dairy issues.
I’d forgotten about squash casserole, truth be told, until Sunday evening, when I was staring down some fresh yellow squash I’d picked up at the farmer’s market. I had unimaginative plans for it as a side dish for roasted chicken, figuring I’d saute it just until tender, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and call it good. But then, out of nowhere, squash casserole popped into my head. Also faced with an overabundance of swiss chard from my garden, the wheels started turning. I could make a squash casserole that would be tasty, but not a guilty pleasure. Something that could still be considered a vegetable. It could be possible to make something gluten-free, casein-free, and even low FODMAP-friendly.
And so this dish was born. It was still creamy from the Daiya cheese I used to top it, but not overly so. The vegetables were tender, but not overcooked. There was still a buttery flavor from the “crumb” topping. The chipotle chile powder added a lovely boost of flavor, so you really felt like you had a treat without a bunch of heaviness. I even enjoyed some leftovers for breakfast. As squash season hasn’t even really begun yet, I’m sure this won’t be the last time this dish graces our dinner table.
Squash and Chard Casserole (Gluten-Free, Casein-Free)
1 bunch swiss chard
2 T olive oil
3 c sliced yellow squash
½ t chipotle chile powder
Salt and pepper to taste
½ c Daiya cheddar cheese (or other vegan cheese alternative)
1 T ghee or olive oil (if you can’t tolerate ghee or prefer to make this vegan)
¼ c almond flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a medium-sized casserole dish (mine was an oval one about 9″X6″) and set aside.
Cut the swiss chard leaves from the stalks. Thinly slice the stalks and set aside, and chop the leaves.
Heat a skillet to medium heat. Add olive oil and swirl to coat. Saute yellow squash and the swiss chard stalks for about 8-10 minutes, or until softened. Add swiss chard leaves and sauté until wilted, another 2-3 minutes. Season with chipotle chile powder, salt and pepper to taste. Using a paper towel, squeeze the excess juice from the vegetables (otherwise, you’ll end up with a wetter casserole than you desire.) Transfer the vegetables to the casserole dish. Top with Daiya cheese.
Melt the ghee in a small microwaveable bowl for 30-45 seconds. Combine ghee and almond flour along with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Blend together with a spoon until crumbly. Spread over the Daiya evenly.
Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes.