SQUASH AND SHRIMP CASSEROLE

My husband's grandmother was from Avoyelles parish, and an incredible country style cook.   She taught me how to make this must have holiday dish. She claimed that you simply add a little of this and a little of that.  The one thing she would always stress is that you should look for the smallest squash you can buy.  The small ones are much more tender and sweeter than their larger counterparts.  I have to agree, the small squash is sweeter, and it blends beautifully with Gulf shrimp.  

There were many years that my family traveled to Texas to join my extended family for Thanksgiving.  This dish was always requested, and we discovered that it freezes well and reheats easily. Make life easy for yourself on Thanksgiving Day, and mark this recipe as one of your make-ahead dishes.  Enjoy!

SQUASH AND SHRIMP CASSEROLE

Servings: 10-12

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided plus more for buttering dish

2 Tablespoons olive oil

3 ½ lbs. crookneck squash, ¼-inch slices

3 cups onions, large diced

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 Tablespoon Italian herbs, divided

2 cups water

1 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce

1 cup green onions, chopped

1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 lbs. uncooked shrimp tails, peeled and deveined

2 cups Italian breadcrumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish and set aside.

2. In a large skillet on low heat, melt 4 Tablespoons of butter and add the olive oil.  Add the onions and sweat, about 4 minutes.  Add the squash and cook until lightly softened, about 5 minutes.  Increase heat to medium high and occasionally shake the skillet rather than stir, until the bottom layer is browned, 7-10 minutes.  Stir well and let the bottom layer brown again, about 3 minutes.

3.  Add water and Tabasco pepper sauce and deglaze the pan scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon.  Bring to a boil to reduce the liquid by half, about 5 minutes. 

4. Add shrimp and stir occasionally until the shrimp is pink in color, 3-5 minutes. 

5. Remove the pan from heat and add green onions and parsley and stir to combine.  Gradually add the breadcrumbs until incorporated. 

6. Spoon the squash into the prepared baking dish and place 4 Tablespoons of butter, cut into thin slices, across the top.  Bake until the corners of the dish are bubbling, 15-20 minutes.  Stir well and bake until the corners and the center are bubbling, 20-25 minutes.  Serve warm. 

MAKE AHEAD: The dressing can be baked, and completely cooled.  Divide dressing between two 1-gallon size re-sealable storage bags.  Place flat and store in freezer up to 1 month.

Squash with Shrimp Casserole Reheating Tips

Thaw frozen squash with shrimp casserole overnight in refrigerator (at least 12 hours).  Spoon the squash mixture into a buttered 9x13-inch baking dish.  Place 4 Tablespoons of butter, cut into thin slices, across the top.  Bake at 350°F, uncovered, until bubbly in the center, 30-35minutes.  Serve warm.