My Mom’s Squash 101–a.k.a “The Side Dish of My Husband’s Discontent”

Up until a few years ago, I absolutely hated squash. I would not touch it with a ten-foot pole, and had no desire to condition myself into tolerating it.

However, as with many foods in my adult life, I woke up one Thanksgiving day and liked it. This sudden turn-around was inexplicable, though apparently only I was affected. My husband still breaks into dramatic choking pantomimes if he sees me cooking it, and has declared squash the one food he will never force our children to try, because that would just be cruel, he says.

My mom has cooked squash the same way since I was a kid, and like many “Mom” dishes, there are no measurements, recipes, rhyme or reason to how she does it. I learned simply by watching, trying and tasting. Want to learn? Here’s a step-by-step plan to make Mom’s squash.

First, let’s see the players:

Here we have some yellow squash, yellow onions and butter. You’ll also need salt, coarse ground black pepper and sugar.

First, you want to melt some butter in a large skillet. I simply eyeballed the amount of squash and onions I had, and figured this was probably enough:

Throw the butter into the skillet to melt over medium heat. Next, dice the onions:

And toss them into the butter to simmer happily:

While the onions do their thing, slice the squash into pieces that have a fairly uniform thickness, but don’t worry about perfection:

Toss the squash into the pan, and add a liberal amount of salt and pepper. Don’t go too crazy; you can always add more later, but you can’t take away. Now for the important part: you want to add some sugar to the mix. I know this seems kind of weird, but squash can sometimes have a slight bitterness to it, and the sugar will cut that, and enhance the good flavors that are hiding in that sneaky yellow package. For this pan, I probably added 3 to 4 tablespoons to start:

So, we have our initial seasonings taken care of, but now it’s time to add a little water. You definitely do not want to go overboard on this step; you are not boiling the stuff for crying out loud. You just want to add some water to help cook things down a bit. For this amount of squash, I probably added 3/4 to 1 cup of water:

And yes, that is a Guiness glass you see me holding…I’m a classy girl like that. Give everything a good stir, and it should look something like this:

Cover and simmer on meduim-low heat. The squash will soften and cook down. Stir every once in a while, but don’t get carried away, or the squash will break apart and become a mushy, pureed mess. After about 20 minutes, TASTE it. Check for texture, salt, pepper and sugar content. Adjust as needed. In the end, you should end up with a skillet of buttery squash yumminess:

Use a slotted spoon to serve, and forget that butter and sugar were involved. The fact that you are eating the squash in the first place gets you enough nutritional cool-points to cancel out their existence.

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