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December 22, 2012

Culinary Conversation: Side dishes can make your holiday meal special

NEW CASTLE — Are you still making those last-minute decisions about holiday meals?

At many tables, the star is usually the turkey. Or ham. Or maybe prime rib.

Admittedly, while my once-a-year turkey eating is enjoyable, I also look forward to side dishes — both creating and partaking.

Sometimes just dressing up those plain vegetables is an extra incentive to those with discriminating tastes.

There’s a variety of choices offered today.

The second squash casserole is not a diet option, for sure. But I remember having this on several occasions while dining with a friend and his family. Its sweetness almost sends this into the dessert category. Either way, it’s good stuff.

I’ve saved the best for last. Eating all those veggies should afford you a little sweet indulgence at the end of the meal. While browsing through a cookbook published by a women’s auxiliary in Florida, I discovered a recipe for key lime pie. I believe the best version of that dessert I have ever tasted was at the Farnsworth Tavern in Gettysburg. That’s a long way to travel for a piece of pie but the next time we visit there, you can be sure I’ll order a slice.

As a guest contributor, your recipes are welcome and encouraged at Culinary Conversation — a tasteful place to be.

Squash Casserole

  • 3 medium zucchini, trimmed and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • 3 medium yellow summer squash, trimmed and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 8-oz. chunk American cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  • 1 cup soft fresh bread crumbs (about 2 slices bread)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a 13x9x2-inch baking dish, arrange a layer of zucchini slices over the bottom, topped with a layer of onions and then a layer of yellow squash. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Repeat the layers, ending with the cheese. Sprinkle the top with the bread crumbs.

Bake, uncovered, until the casserole is bubbly, the bread crumbs are browned and a wooden pick inserted into the squash pieces meets no resistance, about 1 hour. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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