Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
28 Aug

Shrimp, Sausage and Summer Squash Casserole

Two words in the seafood recipe submitted by Rachel Virden for the Primal Blueprint Reader-Created Cookbook Contest caught our eye immediately: Summer and Squash.

Yes, we loved the combination of shrimp and sausage (who wouldn’t?) and the intensely savory flavor that only comes from sautéing with bacon fat. We were amazed by the way a few simple ingredients baked up into such a rich and satisfying dish. But what made us really happy was discovering a new, inventive way cook up summer’s seemingly endless bounty of squash.

If you have a garden, you know that varieties of summer squash are famously prolific. This time of year, farmers’ markets are also overflowing with zucchini, crookneck and pattypan squash. Just when you think you’ve prepared summer squash in every possible way, a recipe like Shrimp, Sausage and Summer Squash Casserole comes along that transforms a simple crookneck into a rich, flavorful meal.

As you begin cooking, the shrimp, sausage and squash seem like three separate ingredients in the pot. But when you spoon the trio into a pan and bake for 30 minutes, the three meld together into a voluptuous casserole with a buttery texture and rich, meaty flavor.

As much as we loved the shrimp in this recipe, we can imagine that other types of seafood, like salmon or halibut, could be substituted with equally delicious results. However you make it, Rachel’s casserole is a one-dish meal that will make you glad summer, along with its endless supply of squash, is not quite over yet.


  • 5 individual yellow crookneck squash (or zucchini), sliced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped into pieces
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage (spicy or regular)
  • 1 pound raw shrimp (peeled/deveined/tails off), chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • Butter, if needed for sautéing
  • Optional seasonings: salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning or hot sauce, Parmesan cheese


Preheat over to 350° Fahrenheit.

Cook the bacon and sausage together in a large soup pot or other deep pot. When fat begins to render, add the onion. Sauté until bacon is slightly crispy, sausage is crumbled and cooked and onion is soft.

Add the sliced squash (it may be easiest to add it in several batches) and stir to coat with meat and rendered fat. Turn the heat to high. This is necessary to quickly cook off any moisture the squash releases so that the squash can brown and caramelize, rather than “boil” in its own water. If the sausage and bacon have not rendered enough fat to cook the squash, then add some butter to the pot. The squash is done once it is slightly browned and there is no liquid sitting in the pot. By this time, the squash will have reduced by about half. Season with your choice of salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning and/or hot sauce.

Remove the pot from the stove and let it cool slightly.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl and pour over the squash mixture.

Add the raw shrimp and 1-2 handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese (optional).

Stir to combine all ingredients then pour into a casserole dish.

If you like, top the dish with a few pats of butter or a sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake until hot and bubbly, approx. 30 minutes.

(It is important to not cook the shrimp prior to baking the casserole. The shrimp will get overcooked and rubbery if you do.) Enjoy!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. What a coincidence, my mother just sent me a recipe that combined sausage (in this case Spanish Chizero) with haddock – weird I thought, seafood and sausage but it was very tasty.

    This recipe sounds good too :-)

    Kelda wrote on August 28th, 2010
  2. Mark do you recommend eating shrimps?

    Most of them are farmed and they had a bad diet and maybe they lived in an unhealthy environment.

    Eating wild shrimps is bad for our planet because it has enormous bycatch.

    Do you think that those farmed shrimps are worth eating?

    ChinaBoy wrote on August 28th, 2010
  3. This looks really delicious and I have way too many squash. Will make it tomorrow :)

    Nicola wrote on August 28th, 2010
  4. That looks really good. And we just happen to have a bunch of squash looking for something to go with it.

    Bill wrote on August 28th, 2010
  5. This looks awesome. I was afraid of all fish and seafood just 10 months ago. Today, I will try anything. I actually have yet to eat a shrimp dish so maybe this one will be the first.

    Primal Toad wrote on August 28th, 2010
  6. LOL..I used to be the queen of “what to do with all the squash?” Zucchini bread, muffins, cake, you name it..whole grain? Even better! Oy! a few years later, (and 20lbs and no “allergies” later) I am more likely to saute up a mess of zuc, summer squashes, garlic, chives, red bell pepper, any fresh herbs from the garden, oregano, basil, rosemary and some butter and olive oil…maybe a splash of white wine or some spinach and feta thrown in…Yum…and WAY better than zucchini muffins! Shrimp and Sausage, too?! Oh boy, am I excited!

    Julie Aguiar wrote on August 28th, 2010
  7. Primal Toad, The trick to cooking good seafood is to never overcook it, or the texture will be rubbery and unpleasant. Better to be slightly underdone, than ruined. You can always cook it more if you like…remember that our beachfront grand (and great-great) grandparents ate seafood fresh and raw at times. From a Portuguese fishing industry friendly family…You can literally dig up clams and oysters, scallops and quohoags and such..and eat em raw! Granted , these days the water supply they are harvested from could be in question, but the point is that fishing families didn’t go hungry…But shellfish was always considered the Poor Man’s food…Plentiful and free…In Maine, the Lobster Men/women catch a bunch of crabs in the Lobster traps..LOL=cheap delicious crab meat! Opportunity for fresh, nutritious, un processed (other than the picking!) ingredients…If only everything could be as easy and scrumptuous as New England Summer Seafood…sigh..

    Julie Aguiar wrote on August 28th, 2010
  8. But, alas after 20+ years in the restaurant industry, most Corporate restaurant chains get “king crab legs” from Indo-China, and “Alaskan Salmon” from farms..I will still get a few lbs of scallops fresh off the boat from my neighbor after a brutal scallop trip at sea..thank you very much…and the local Mom and Pop places still get the seafood at auction off the docks…Know your grocer!

    Julie Aguiar wrote on August 28th, 2010
  9. And a traditional Clamboil or clam bake around these parts (Southeastern Mass, or RI) ALWAYS includes a spicy sausage (chourico or linguica), Potatoes, fresh sweet corn, steamers or littlenecks in a spicy broth…the combo is written in granite somewhere! Enough digital media sharing for now! Delicious dreams to all!

    Julie Aguiar wrote on August 28th, 2010
  10. Looks delicious, and pretty easy to make.
    I don’t suspect it is the healthiest meal but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

    This one is added to my collection.

    Keith J. wrote on August 29th, 2010
  11. Do you cover the casserole before baking? I’m making this for dinner tonight.

    JenCat wrote on August 29th, 2010
  12. I made this tonight and it was AMAZING! Thanks, Mark!

    Wendy wrote on August 29th, 2010
  13. What a great recipe. It looks absolutely terrific. I am SO hungry now.

    Dan wrote on August 30th, 2010
  14. This recipe sounds tasty!!
    I’ve got some Jerk Chicken in the oven right now: Free range chicken legs/thighs, fresh parsely, garlic,ginger,jerk seasoning,cinammon stick, kidney beans.

    Luke M-Davies wrote on August 30th, 2010
  15. That’s what I’m talking about. My favorite part of this place is definitely the recipes :)

    Multivitamin wrote on August 30th, 2010
  16. I made this last night, and it turned out to be much more difficult than it looks, but also more forgiving.

    I followed the instructions and, after the bacon and sausage rendered a bit added the finely chopped onion in a (for me) big soup pot. Perhaps too finely chopped, or not a big enough pot, because it covered the bottom completely and the mixture cooked wet until the onion basically disintegrated. So, no crisping the bacon at all.

    As I started adding the squash (with some butter just in case) and turned up to high, immediately the bottom of the pan started burning with no browning of the squash. I started adding more squash to try to take some of the heat and/or rub off the burning parts, but no luck. Eventually I had all 5 pounds in there, with the bottom burnt, and (as described) a soup of squash water boiling my squash.

    At this point I was committed, shrugged and stirred constantly until the liquid had cooked down a lot and I had squash mush, then followed the rest of the directions. I was expecting the worst seeing the state of that pot when I was done, but what came out of the oven is surprisingly delicious.

    I will definitely make again, but perhaps some other cooks can elaborate on the details needed to make this properly? I’d rather not scrape a quarter inch of burnt stuff off my pots every time!

    Oh, and to answer someone’s question, bake uncovered, especially if you put the parmesan on top!

    Kris wrote on August 31st, 2010
    • Same experience here. Thankfully, I had read this comment and knew it could turn out well regardless :) My squash and zucchini definitely boiled in their own juice, despite cooking in a wok with lots and lots of surface area, but it still turned out well enough that even the kids ate it.

      Water content differences in the squash may be at least part of the issue. I’ve had problems with other recipes because our homegrown squash and zucchini seem to have a higher water content than their store-bought equivalents.

      Jess wrote on September 7th, 2011
    • I’ve made this many, many more times now, it’s one of my favorites, and here’s my tips for anyone who wants to try:

      1. Render and crisp the bacon *first*, before anything. Get the bacon done as much as you want, ’cause it won’t get any crispier after this.

      2. Now add the sausage. Again, get the sausage as crumbly and brown as you want *now*, as it won’t change once you drown it in squash.

      3. Finally add the onion, soften it, then proceed with the squash.

      4. Don’t worry about browning the squash. I have never, ever, ever gotten a bit of browning on it, no matter how slowly I add it on what temperature in whatever pot. There’s just too much squash. I think the pots the OP mentions below are magic, but it doesn’t matter. It will be delicious just with you reducing the boiling squash water. Speaking of…

      5. DON’T DRAIN THAT WATER! Let me repeat that – don’t do it! That is FLAVOR – all your bacon and sausage and onion and butter juice, do not just drain that away to save time. Take the time to let it reduce naturally, which will *concentrate* all that flavor. This is not a quick meal – it’s not complicated, but it takes time to let everything properly render and reduce.

      6. I definitely add in all the “extras” – cajun seasoning, tabasco sauce, parmesan and butter.

      I no longer burn my pots trying to brown it, so cleanup is easy. The way all these flavors come together is just brilliant, so thanks again to the creator!

      Kris wrote on January 14th, 2013
  17. It took a little longer then expected. I had the same issue the bacon just did not want to brown.

    I screwed up and bought cooked sausage so just added that at the same time as the shrimp.

    It is in the oven right now. SMELLS GREAT. Hope it tastes the same.

    Jill wrote on August 31st, 2010
  18. Yep, definitely takes a while to make this. I couldn’t wait for all the liquid to evaporate from the pot, so I kind of scooped everything out and dropped it in the pan. I believe a “casserole” dish is something like 12×9, right? I didn’t have enough zucchini or shrimp, so it’s in an 8×8 pan now. Fingers crossed. But it smells bangin’. Parmesan makes anything better.

    Joanna wrote on August 31st, 2010
  19. I agree with how long it’s taking…I’m reducing my squash right now. But, I find that eating Primal makes it so I’m not starving so I don’t mind it taking longer. Apparently the kids aren’t hungry yet either, if they knew it was meal time they’d think they were, but without seeing a clock…they’re happily playing and don’t even realize we’ll be eating late tonight!

    Annie wrote on August 31st, 2010
  20. I also made this tonight. Same experience as Kris. Definitely need to cook the bacon and sausage a bit longer before adding the onion. However, after cooking in the oven for 30 minutes the bacon crisped up a bit.

    As for the squash, it never really browned. We cubed it because we had this monster 2.5lb squash we recently picked. The skin was too thick and tough and didn’t soften up. Had to eat around it. FYI we added 2 tbsp of ghee while the squash was sauteing.

    Otherwise, this dish kicked butt.

    Steve-O wrote on August 31st, 2010
  21. Made this for dinner last night and it was fantastic! I didn’t worry about the bacon browning too much. My squash never “browned” but I transferred after it was reduced. I will definitely keep this one in the rotation!

    All in all it took about 45 minutes for the first process (browning the meats and reducing the squash) and the baking.

    Liz J wrote on September 1st, 2010
  22. I tried this following the exact recipe (well, I did add a bit of cream to the custard) last week because opening the CSA box created an explosion of summer squash in a number of varieties in my kitchen. Hubby and I thought it was so good, I’m making for dinner again tonight. The twist–tonight instead of shrimp, it’s some leftover roasted chicken I pulled off the bone and cut up. Some garden fresh sage for seasoning, and in about 30 minutes we’ll see how it tastes!

    GreenPhoenix wrote on September 1st, 2010
  23. I made this for dinner last night. I skipped the bacon. I don’t do any sugar and didn’t have time to look for bacon without sugar. I browned the sausage and added a bit of butter then cooked my onion. Added the squash, never could get it to brown or to get rid of the liquid. Once the squash was reduced, I just poured off the liquid (and drank it, like a broth, man was it good!) Followed the rest of the recipe and baked it. It still had tons of liquid after baking. It was really, really good. Going to have it for leftovers tonight. Definately making this one again!

    Renee wrote on September 2nd, 2010
  24. Great Dish! I substituted the parmesan with blue cheese, and added garlic and some habanero. Ate most of it in one day. Very Tasty!

    Dennis wrote on September 3rd, 2010
  25. This is a crowd pleaser. I made it for a group of folks over the holiday weekend, everyone loved it! Added fresh tomatoes to one batch prior to baking yum.

    Lifestylist wrote on September 8th, 2010
  26. This is my recipe and in response to some of the issues getting the squash to brown: I have found that the pot you use makes a big difference. I have aluminum anodized pots that I generally use for everything and it works well in these pots. However, I recently got a Lodge Cast Iron Enamel Coated Dutch Oven that I LOVE. However, when I have tried to cook squash in this pot all the browning sticks to the pot and nothing sticks to the squash. The same is true for other veggies like cabbage etc. Some pots are better then others when it comes to getting veggies to caramelize.

    Another great variation on this recipe is to use Eggplant or Mirlitons (Choyte Squash) instead of Squash. However, it will take numerous (probably 2 dozen or more) Mirlitons and I have found them to be very expensive outside of New Orleans (approx .50 per lb in NO versus $1-$2 each in Atlanta). Mirlitons have even more water in them than squash so they cook down to practically nothing.

    Rachel V wrote on September 13th, 2010
  27. Delicious! This will become a permanent fixture in my diet, for sure.

    Emily wrote on September 15th, 2010
  28. Hi guys. Not sure if anyone is reading this now but I’m taking a stab at it and I’m scared. I’m looking at a mountain of squash I’ve never worked with before. I think I got 5 or 6 of them and it STILL wasn’t 5lbs! Is this amount correct? Should it look like this much? Thanks!

    Mark wrote on October 17th, 2010
    • Hey, this recipe is for a HUGE amount, you’ll need a VERY deep pot. It will shrink as you cook it though, the squash will become pliable and soft.

      Mike wrote on October 17th, 2010
  29. When I read this recipe I thought “This sounds weird, but may be delicious.” My first reactions were correct, my entire family raised their eyebrows when I explained the dish, but they all had seconds. It was wonderful!

    A couple of things, I did use some butter to help sautee the squash and I did not wait until all the liquid in the dish evaporated. I always cook squash until it becomes slightly less opaque. Since I was going to be cooking the squash again in the oven I simply took it to that point and then drained some of the liquid. I simply poured some of the excess liquid out after mixing in the shrimp and cheese.

    It really was a great meal, so flavorful and satisfying. The shrimp had a great texture. Thanks for the recipe! I’m trying to convert my family to the primal diet a little at a time and if I keep presenting meals such as this it will be a breeze.

    marez wrote on October 18th, 2010

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