This is inspired by a favorite snack my dad made for me when I was a kid. The sauce, a simple béchamel variation, can be used with most any vegetable or even macaroni.
For the squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons diced shallots (or onion)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Pinch chile flakes or 1 small jalapeño, diced (optional)
3pounds summer squash, various types for color, cut in 1/4-inch-thick pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2cup chicken stock (can substitute veggie stock or white wine)
For the sauce
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2cups grated Gruyère cheese (or sharp cheddar)
Chopped chives or parsley
To make the squash: Heat oil in a sauté pan on high heat. Add shallot and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add optional chile flakes or diced jalapeño and sauté briefly. Add squash, salt, black pepper, and chicken stock. Cover and let steam for about 8 minutes until squash pieces are cooked through but still firm. Remove from heat and divide the mixture among 6 ramekins or place in baking dish.
To make the sauce: Place butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium-low heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Raise the heat slightly and cook until the mixture turns a light golden color, about 6 minutes.
Slowly add the cream to the butter, whisking continuously until very smooth. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat and stir in the cheese until it is melted.
Place the squash-filled ramekins or baking dish on a sheet pan and pour the cheese sauce over the squash, being careful not to overfill the dishes. Bake in a 400° oven for about 15 minutes or until golden-brown on top. Serve with chopped chives or parsley on top, if you like.