When my older daughter, Sam, was a vegetarian, I learned to cook a lot of vegetable dishes. Creatively. With imagination. But vegetables not being my favorite food group, the growth of my vegetable dish repertoire was slow, and I had more misses than hits.
This baked butter garlic squash was among the hits. The garlicky butter seeps into the soft and creamy squash flesh during baking as the panko browns and turns crisp. Talk about a kaleidoscope of textures and flavors!
Only half of a squash was used here. You may, of course, double or even triple the ingredients but half was just enough to make six slices: three of then-vegetarian Sam, and one each for her father, sister and myself.
The squash was cut into halves and the centers were scooped out and discarded. Centers? That means the seeds and watery membranes surrounding them.
Half of the squash was stored in the fridge and the other half was cut into six equal slices. The squash slices were arranged slightly overlapping each other in a baking tray that had been sprayed with oil. That’s to help prevent the squash from sticking to the bottom during baking.
While the oven preheated to 375F, panko and grated Parmesan were tossed together. That was going on top of the squash slices but, first, it needed a binder.
In a small frying pan, garlic was cooked in half a cup of butter until fragrant. Two tablespoons of that garlicky butter were drizzkled over the panko-Parmesan mix and stirred in.
The remaining butter was drizzled evenly over the squash slices in the baking pan. The garlic pieces were also distributed evenly over the six slices.
With the surface of the squash slices now moistened with melted butter, it was ready for the topping. The panko-Parmesan mixture was spread over the squash slices. The tray went into the oven and squash cooked at 375F for about half an hour. The temperature was turned up to 425F and the squash baked for a couple of minutes longer until the top turned darker and crispier.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Scoop out the seeds of the squash and discard.
- Cut the squash into slices about half an inch thick.
- Brush or spray a baking dish with vegetable oil. Arrange the squash in the dish slightly overlapping one another. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- In a small pan, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant.
- In a bowl, whisk the Parmesan and panko together, drizzle in two tablespoons of the butter-garlic mixture and toss well to combine.
- Drizzle the remaining garlic butter over the squash slices.
- Spread the Parmesan-panko mixture over the squash slices.
- Bake at 375F for 30 to 40 minutes or just until the squash is cooked through.
- Take the baking dish out of the oven and pierce one slice with a fork to test. If you’re happy with the texture, it’s time for the next step.
- The Parmesan-panko that has fallen directly into the baking dish will be more brown than what’s on top of the squash slices at this point. Scoop them with a spoon and scatter on top of the squash slices.
- Turn up the oven temperature to 425F. Put the squash back into the oven and cook for another five to seven minutes.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.