Cheesy Baked Italian Summer Squash Recipe

5 from 1 vote
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Cheesy Baked Italian Summer Squash Recipe

Cheesy, Italian-inspired summer squash is a basic spin on eggplant parmesan or a cheesier take on ratatouille. This recipe consists of onion, bell pepper, summer squash, marinara, and both cheddar and mozzarella cheese. The veggies are sauteed and baked topped with cheese to deliver a tender cheesy casserole that’s reminiscent of your favorite Italian-American classics.

I was a little skeptical when my mother first shared this recipe with me but it’s surprisingly delicious and a true crowd-pleaser. If you’re looking for a unique and flavorful side or vegetarian meal, this recipe is for you!

I love how versatile my cast iron is. When craving comfort food, I love to make a chicken pot pie. It’s the perfect baking dish for a sweet cornbread with bourbon. You can also achieve the perfect pizza crust without a pizza oven!

Tips for Cooking Italian Summer Squash

This recipe can be made with a few shortcuts but I think it’s best to follow the recipe as written below. It’s really important to saute the pepper, onion, and squash prior to baking it. This helps to both tenderize and remove excess moisture from the veggies (especially the squash). Given this is a one-skillet recipe, it only adds a few minutes!

If you’re really pressed for time you alternately toss the raw veggies with the sauce and just bake in the oven to simultaneously cook the veggies and melt the cheese. As mentioned, this method retains more moisture and the veggies will be firmer.

Make It Ahead

You can make this recipe a day in advance and save the baking portion when ready to serve. Follow the recipe as written, cover with foil, and keep in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Remove dish from the fridge 30 minutes prior to baking so the dish can come to room temp. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, this recipe can be made in a casserole or baking dish.

Just to note the volume of veggies will shrink/greatly reduce as they’re sauteed. This will give you the necessary space in the pan for the cheese and marinara.

The Cheese

It sounds strange, but this recipe works really well with a combination of shredded mozzarella and Mexican-blend cheese. We’ve experimented using just mozzarella and it leaves something to be desired. A blend of various mild cheddar cheeses adds depth and flavor.

If you want to stick with Italian cheeses, I would recommend a three or four-cheese blend of Italian cheese. You can usually find a pre-shredded blend in the grocery store. Top with some optional ricotta cheese for a creamy finish.

Cheesy Baked Italian Summer Squash Recipe

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5 from 1 vote

Cheesy Baked Italian Summer Squash Recipe

Servings: 6
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Summer squash, onion, and bell pepper tossed in marinara and topped with shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese. A cheesy baked Italian-inspired family favorite.

Ingredients 

  • 4 smooth-skinned summer squash, Quartered and chopped into 1/4 inch chunks
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper, cored and roughly chopped
  • 32 ounces marinara, I like Rao’s
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican-blend or Italian-blend cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon oregano or Italian seasoning
  • 3-4 basil leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • optional: 4-5 dallops, tablespoons of ricotta cheese

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Heat oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add all veggies and season liberally with salt and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes until veggies are tender (the veggies will shrink as cooked). Let rest for 5 minutes, push veggies to one side of the pan, tilt, and discard any excess water (soaking up with paper towel helps).
  • Pour in marinara (reserving 1 cup) and Mexican blend cheese. Toss until evenly coated in the sauce. Cover top with an even layer of remaining marinara followed by mozzarella cheese (and optional dollops of ricotta), cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  • In the last 10 minutes, remove foil and bake uncovered. Let cool for 5 minutes, top with fresh basil and serve. You can alternately broil uncovered for 1 minute to brown up the cheese at the very end.

Notes

This recipe works really well with a combination of shredded mozzarella and Mexican-blend cheese. If you want to stick with Italian cheeses, I would recommend a three or four-cheese blend of Italian cheese. You can usually find a pre-shredded blend in the grocery store.
If you’re really pressed for time you alternately toss the raw veggies with the sauce and just bake in the oven to simultaneously cook the veggies and melt the cheese. As mentioned, this method retains more moisture and the veggies will be firmer.
You can make this recipe a day in advance and save the baking portion when ready to serve. Keep in fridge until ready to bake.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6Calories: 317kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 17.8gFat: 23.5gSaturated Fat: 9.6gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 810mgFiber: 4.5gSugar: 8.5g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian-American
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About Shawn Williams

My name is Shawn, author behind Kitchen Swagger. I'm a food & drink enthusiast bringing you my own simple and delicious restaurant-inspired recipes.

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