Could you get the recipe for squash casserole from Chef & the Farmer in Kinston? It is so good! I’ve searched my cookbooks and usual websites, but nothing sounds like it tasted.
Chef Vivian Howard was happy to share the recipe for her Squash and Fontina Casserole, which she describes as “a cross between traditional squash casserole and the long-cooked squash and onions I grew up eating.”
Howard and her husband, Ben Knight, own Chef & the Farmer restaurant in Kinston. Howard is well known as a star of the PBS show, “A Chef’s Life,” which has won Emmy and Peabody awards.
Howard said she cooks the squash and onions longer than you would for a typical squash casserole, which helps it develop more flavor. It’s been on the menu every summer for the past 7 years. This summer, they served it with a lamb burger and beet tzatziki, a sauce made with Greek yogurt. The dish was so popular that they sold about 25 a night.
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Chef & the Farmer
120 W. Gordon St., Kinston,
Squash and Fontina Casserole
Adapted from chef Vivian Howard, co-owner of Chef & the Farmer restaurant in Kinston, and star of the “A Chef’s Life,” on PBS.
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 tablespoons bacon fat
4 medium yellow onion halved and sliced thin, about 4 cups
2 tablespoons minced garlic
8-10 medium yellow squash or zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch rounds or half moons
3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups grated Fontina, Swiss or white American cheese
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch-by-8-inch casserole dish and dust the inside of the dish with cornmeal. Alternately, you could use six (6-ounce) ramekins and make individual casseroles.
Heat bacon fat over medium heat in a 12-inch saute pan or cast iron skillet. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent. Add the squash, sage, rosemary, salt and black pepper. Stir it all to combine and cook over medium-high heat for about 25 minutes, checking periodically to make sure things aren’t sticking. You are looking for the squash to release all its liquid and begin to brown. Remove pan from the heat. While things are still steamy, stir in cheese. Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Then stir in the egg.
Fill whatever vessel you choose three-fourths of the way with the squash mixture. Bake uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes for the large casserole, or 15 to 20 minutes for the small ones. Either way you’re looking for it to brown on top and around the edges. Serve warm.
Yield: 10-12 servings.