Creamy Zucchini Casserole

Creamy zucchini casserole is an adaptation of an original eggplant casserole recipe I first created about 20 years ago.  I’ve made it with yellow squash, cucuzza, and zucchini.  Sometimes I add rice, sometimes I use regular cream of mushroom soup, sometimes there’s a pound of squash, sometimes there are 2 pounds of squash, and sometimes there’s no cream cheese added.  Ground turkey or chicken can be substituted for the ground beef.  Suffice it to say that it’s a versatile casserole.  Panko is a new addition; in the original, I used regular Italian breadcrumbs, which you can use, too.  The panko does provide a nice crunch, though. 
Keep this recipe handy, especially if you’ve planted a garden with summer squash.

Creamy Zucchini Casserole Printable recipe
1-2 lbs zucchini, diced and steamed tender crisp
1 lb extra lean ground beef
2 onions, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 2-3 teaspoons fresh
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced
1/2 cup parmesan cheese +extra for topping
1 can golden mushroom soup
8 oz cream cheese, cut into 16 pieces
Water
1 cup milk
Olive oil
Italian-style Panko breadcrumbs
Butter to grease casserole dish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Over medium-high heat, add one teaspoon olive to large skillet.
Add ground beef to skillet and cook on medium-high heat until caramelized. 
Add onions, celery, and garlic to ground beef.  If pan is dry, add 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Saute vegetables until translucent and edges are brown.
Add dried basil.  (If using fresh, add along with parmesan cheese.)
Stir can of soup into beef & onion mixture, adding one can of water as well.
Add milk and bring mixture to a bubble. 
Add cream cheese to mixture and continue to stir until cheese has melted into sauce.
Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese, along with parsley and fresh basil, if using.
Spoon mixture into buttered 13×9 casserole dish.  Sprinkle on panko and additional parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Enjoy!

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