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Sautéed Yellow Squash With Onions and Parmesan

This Sautéed Yellow Squash With Onions and Parmesan is a quick and easy side dish that’s perfect for summer and goes great with just about anything!

The onions are lightly golden, sweet and add great flavor. A sprinkle of parmesan on top gives you some salty, nutty cheesiness. And keeping it all super simple really lets the crisp-tender squash be the star!

So, at this time of the year, we’re all usually looking for zucchini recipes.

BUT let’s not forget about zucchini’s also-very-prolific, just-as-delicious and sunshine-colored cousin that’s in season right now too: yellow squash!

Fun Fact: Yellow squash is often referred to as summer squash…but it’s not the only one. Other varieties such as zucchini, pattypan, cousa, zephyr, and chayote are also considered summer squash.

Yes, these days, you can pretty much find yellow squash in the grocery store all year long. But there’s no question that it’s at its absolute best and most flavorful when you can get it freshly picked from a local farmers’ market or – better yet – your very own garden.

This year, the yellow squash plants in my garden totally kicked the pants off the zucchini in terms of fruit production. That means I’ve currently got lots of these beauties just waiting to be turned into delicious dishes like this one…which is one of my most favorite ways to enjoy them!

sauteed yellow squash and onions in a cast iron skillet with a bowl of shredded parmesan cheese and a wooden spoon on the side

Types of Yellow Squash

There are actually two types of yellow summer squash: straight-neck and crookneck.

Straight-neck squash is just like the name says. The neck is relatively straight (which can make it easier to cut into uniform slices). The skin is thinner and mostly smooth, and it often has smaller seeds.

Crookneck squash usually has a bend in the neck (although sometimes they can grow somewhat straight) and is often much wider on the blossom end. The skin is thicker, waxier and bumpier, and the seeds will often be larger.

a straight neck yellow squash on the left and a crookneck yellow squash on the right

The flavors of these squashes are very similar, and so you can use either one in this recipe (I used straight-neck).

Selecting Your Yellow Squash

Generally, yellow squash are best when they are small to medium size (my seed packet tells me they are best when picked at 4 to 7 inches long). At this stage, their flavor is better, they are more tender, the seeds are smaller, and the skin is thinner.

So, when possible, opt for smaller squash rather than a larger ones.

Yes, I know sometimes that is hard…especially if you grow your own. Those little buggers can go from small to huge literally overnight (in fact, the squash I used for the photos was a bit larger than I normally would like for this exact reason!).

If using bigger squash, you can scoop out any large seeds before slicing if you’d like.

Choose squash that are firm with no soft spots, bruises or cuts. The skin should not be very thick (you should be able to pierce it with your fingernail), and it should be a nice vibrant yellow or creamy yellow color.

bowls of sliced yellow squash, sliced onions, olive oil, and shredded parmesan cheese along with salt and pepper shakers

Ingredients You Need

  • Olive oil (regular or light-tasting)
  • Onions (I use sweet onion, such as Vidalia)
  • Yellow squash
  • Salt (I use kosher salt)
  • Black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese (freshly grated or shredded is best)

Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

How to Make Sautéed Yellow Squash with Onions and Parmesan

1: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.

2: Add the sliced onions to the skillet.

2 numbered images, number 1 is of olive oil in a cast iron skillet on a stove top, and number 2 is of onions added to the skillet

3: Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent and just start to turn light golden brown in spots.

4: Add the sliced yellow squash to the skillet; season with salt and pepper.

2 numbered images, number 3 is of the lightly golden brown onions in the skillet with a wooden spoon, and number 4 is of the sliced squash added to the pan and seasoned with salt and pepper

5: Cook the squash and onions, stirring occasionally, just until the squash is crisp-tender (or to your desired level of doneness).

6: Sprinkle each serving with freshly grated or shredded parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

2 numbered images; number 5 is of the squash and onions being sauteed in the skillet, and number 6 is of the cooked squash and onions on a white plate with a fork and sprinkled with parmesan cheese with text that says enjoy

Note: This is just a brief overview of the steps. For the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and detailed instructions, scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Recipe Tips & Tidbits

  • I prefer to cut my squash into half-moons that are about ½ inch thick (this thickness helps keep them from getting too soggy and falling apart). But you can do whole slices, quarter-moons, or whatever shape you like.
  • The same goes for the onions. I like ½-inch half-ring slices, but you can chop them or do rings if you prefer.
  • Don’t take the onions too far or let them get too brown before adding the squash. They should be translucent and just starting to get a little golden-brown color on them in spots. They will continue cooking once you add the squash.
  • I don’t brown my squash, but if you’d prefer some color on yours, increase the heat a bit and stir less often to let them brown. Just be careful not to burn the onions!
  • Keep a close eye on that squash. Once it gets going, it can go from crisp-tender to soggy very quickly.
  • If you like your squash on the softer side rather than crisp-tender, just cook it a little longer.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Use zucchini instead of yellow squash (or do a combination of the two).
  • Love garlic? Add some minced or chopped fresh garlic when you add the squash (watch the heat and adjust it, if needed, so the garlic doesn’t burn).
  • Try seasoning your squash with dried herbs, such as Italian seasoning (add it when you add the squash).
  • Or try sprinkling the finished dish with some fresh herbs. Parsley or basil would be excellent choices.

Storing Leftovers, Reheating & Freezing

Store any leftovers, once cooled to room temperature, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.

Reheat leftovers in a skillet on the stove over low to medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. The reheated squash will likely be much softer since you are cooking it a little more (but it’ll still be delicious).

Freezing this dish is not recommended. The squash would become very soggy and watery.

sauteed yellow squash with onions and parmesan cheese on a white plate with a fork

What to Serve with Sautéed Yellow Squash

One of the best things about this sautéed yellow squash is that it’s an awesome side dish for just about anything and everything!

Of course, it’s fantastic with anything grilled: chicken, beef, pork, fish, or seafood. And it would be great with any of those proteins cooked in a different way.

You could also use it in ways other than as a side dish. For example, it’s really good in a frittata or as the filling for an omelet (I’ve done this many, many times with the leftovers!).

Or you could turn it into a meatless main dish by tossing it with some pasta, a little more olive oil and some more parmesan cheese. Yum!

I hope you try this Sautéed Yellow Squash With Onions and Parmesan recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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More Squash Recipes to Try

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!

sauteed yellow squash with onions and parmesan on a white plate with a fork

Sautéed Yellow Squash With Onions and Parmesan

This Sautéed Yellow Squash With Onions and Parmesan is a quick and easy side dish that's perfect for summer and goes great with just about anything!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 (about 1 cup each)
Estimated Calories: 132

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, regular or light-tasting
  • 1 cup sliced onions, halve the onion from the stem end to root end then slice across into ½-inch thick half-rings (I like using a sweet onion like Vidalia)
  • 2 pounds yellow squash, halved lengthwise then sliced across into ½-inch thick half-moons (about 8 cups of sliced squash)
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup freshly shredded or grated parmesan cheese, add more or less to taste

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat (I use a 12-inch cast iron skillet).
  • Add the onions to the skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and just starting to turn lightly golden brown in spots, about 5 minutes.
    Don't take the onions too far or let them get too brown at this point. They will continue cooking along with the squash.
  • Add the squash to the skillet with the onions; season with salt and pepper.
    I add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper; you can adjust these amounts to suit your own personal tastes.
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash are crisp-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes, or to your desired level of doneness (if you'd like them softer, just cook them a little longer).
    Keep a close eye on the squash. Once it gets going, it can go from crisp-tender to soggy very quickly.
    I don't brown my squash, but if you'd prefer some color on yours, increase the heat a bit when you add the squash and stir less often to let them brown. Just be careful not to burn the onions!
  • Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
  • Top each serving with one tablespoon of parmesan cheese (or your desired amount); serve immediately.

Notes

  • Store leftovers, once cooled to room temperature, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.
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