Golden summer squash baked with sautéed onions, yellow bell pepper and garlic with a Havarti cheese, creme fraiche sauce, finished with Italian parsley and fresh lemon.
Note: It's important to use young, smaller sized squash for this recipe. Larger mature squash will have tougher skins and more seeds.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups large dice, yellow onion
1 cup medium dice, yellow bell pepper (about 1 medium sized)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup crème fraîche
2 ounces (weight) grated creamy Havarti cheese
3 pounds small, yellow summer squash
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 ounces small dice, smoked bacon (2-3 strips) Freezing the strips makes easier dicing.
Corn bread crumbs (my cornbread recipe: https://www.chaserivers.com/classic-southern-cornbread)
Italian parsley, chopped
Cut the ends off of each squash and cut into 1 inch thick rounds. Halve or quarter the rounds so they are about 1 inch in size. Set aside.
Add the olive oil and butter to a large skillet and heat over med-high temperature. Once hot add the onion, bell pepper and season with salt & pepper. Once everything is hot and sautéing nicely, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables are soft and reduced in volume. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, crème fraîche and lastly the Havarti cheese. Remove from heat and stir until the cheese is melted well. Cover and set aside. Make sure when removing the lid no condensation goes into the sauce.
Add the butter to a large skillet with tall sides and melt over medium-high temperature. Add the squash, salt and cook, stirring often. Once the squash start to soften, mash to release juices. Turn temperature down to medium if needed and continue cooking, stirring often until there are no more puddles of juices on the bottom of pan. It's very important to cook out most of the juices to prevent a runny casserole. Once juices have evaporated and squash is very tender, remove from heat, add to the sauce and then mix very well. Adjust salt & pepper if needed. Be very careful not to over-salt. Butter a 1 1/2 quart baking dish (Le Creuset #28 au gratin) and fill with the squash mixture. Sprinkle a thin layer of grated Havarti over the top (optional). Sprinkle the diced bacon evenly over the top, followed with the cornbread crumbs (about 1 to 1 1/4 cups).
Preheat the oven to 350F and place the casserole in the center of oven. Take one of the oven racks and place it 1-2 positions above the center position the casserole will be on, to place a baking sheet on during the last part of baking. Bake until the cornbread crumbs are nicely browned. Once browned take a large baking sheet and place it on the rack above casserole to prevent over-browning. This will prevent any moisture from going back into the pan if you were to use aluminum directly on top of casserole. Continue baking for a total of 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve warm. Right before serving, sprinkle with fresh parsley and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top. Serves 6-8.