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This Can’t Be How Sleep Works {With Lemon And Parmesan Squash}

I’m an “active sleeper,” which means I do aerobics in my sleep.  Think. . .  advanced kickboxing crossed with the butterfly stroke.

On the plus side, I burn a lot of calories before I even get up in the morning.  This is hugely awesome, because it means that in my waking hours I can avoid aerobics classes taught by bouncy 20-year-olds who look great in spandex.

Unfortunately, some of my fancier moves wake me up.  When I wake up, the puppies wake up.  When the puppies wake up, Scott wakes up because Seymour sits on his face and swooshes his enormous tail side-to-side at about 10 miles per hour.  Pretty soon the animals need to pee and everyone’s yelling about how it’s 4 a.m. and then the commotion makes me hungry so I turn the lights on and make us all a snack.

We’re sleep-deprived, y’all.  Our productivity has plummeted.

We’re probably going to sit around all weekend and moan.

We’re only going to eat things that basically cook themselves.

That’s why I’m sending you this squash recipe: it’s quick and doesn’t require you to do much of anything.  You slice it up, sautée it until it’s tender, and then toss it in lemon juice and Parmesan.  The cheese melts into the warm squash.  You could eat it by itself, or toss it with pasta, or spoon it over polenta, or stack it on a toasted English muffin with extra lemon juice and ricotta cheese.

It’s basically impossible to mess up–unless, of course, you sprained both your elbows in hip hop aerobics class.  In that case, you should probably just order pizza.

Yellow Squash with Lemon & Parmesan {Download & Print Recipe}

You can adjust this recipe for however much squash you have on hand.  Just use enough butter to keep the squash from drying out (you can add more as you go) and use enough lemon that the tang of it makes the almost caramelized flavor of the squash pop out at you, too.

Ingredients:  (serves 2)

2 large yellow squash (about 1 1/4 lbs., or 4 cups)

1 1/2 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. olive oil

dash kosher salt

1/2 lemon

2 tbsp. freshly-grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano


Slice the squash into 1/4″ rounds.  Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.   Add the squash to the pan, sprinkle with some salt, and toss to coat.  Sautée the squash on medium for about 5 minutes without stirring it.  Adjust the heat to medium-low if necessary to prevent the butter from turning brown and burning.  Continue to sautée for 20-30 minutes, tossing occasionally, until squash is tender.

Transfer squash to a bowl.  While it’s still hot, toss it with a squeeze of lemon juice (I just start squeezing half a lemon over the bowl and taste as I go) and the cheese.  The cheese should melt into the squash.

Serve as a side dish or pile the squash onto a sandwich, or toss with pasta and extra butter and Parmesan, or serve over polenta.


Squash gets a nice, brown sear on it if you heat the butter first, toss in a single layer of squash, and leave it–without touching it–until the sear makes its mark.  That’s awesome and all, but I typically don’t have the time or patience to do that.  That’s why this recipe calls for dumping the squash in all at once and tossing it occasionally.

Don’t toss the squash with the lemon and cheese in the pan over the heat.  It’s important to transfer the squash to a bowl so that the Parmesan doesn’t burn.

34 Comments Post a comment
  1. Trish #

    I sleep like that too. My grandpa used to call me a windmill in a tornado.

    August 18, 2012
    • Trish, that’s a neat image. It reminds me of a night that I slept in my great grandmother’s bed as a kid. I didn’t get any sleep because I knew that I kicked and tossed, and she was old, and I didn’t want to hurt her!

      August 18, 2012
  2. Nothing’s worse than burn Parmesan. Except maybe a really flappy tail in your face at 4 am.

    August 18, 2012
    • Ugh– second only to the smell of burned eggs. Burned eggs might be my least favorite smell in the entire world.

      August 18, 2012
  3. juanitascocina #

    This is one of my favorite dishes. Sometimes, if I’m feeling daring, I throw in some zucchini too. *gasp*

    The first time I made it, my wife was all, “Cheese doesn’t go on squash”. And I was all, “Ummm, hello. Your life is about to change.” And she was all, “I don’t want cheese on my squash.”

    So, I put cheese on her squash and now she wants me to make it all of the time.

    August 18, 2012
    • Good for her. Living on The Edge, baby! Scott doesn’t like “citrus,” which I use all the freaking time. But when I cover it in Parmesan after the lemon, he doesn’t seem to mind. I can’t imagine what he’d do if I covered it in havarti, which is his favoritest cheese in the universe.

      August 18, 2012
  4. This is one of my favorite way to make squash — so easy! Lemon and cheese together make (almost) everything better.

    August 18, 2012
  5. sue ellen #

    Sorry about the 4am dealie… However I’d get up for some of your squash.( squash…isn’t that a icky name for such a wonderful vegetable…no wonder kids crinkle there noses at it!)
    Hope y’all and the pooches make up for the early ‘wake up’ today !! 😉

    August 18, 2012
    • Squash is a weird name for a vegetable–that’s true. Especially considering that I don’t think people back in the day, like, squashed squashes into a soup or anything. Maybe they did? Zucchini is a way cooler name.

      August 18, 2012
      • When I was at ballet school, one of our Japanese classmates had great difficulties remembering the english words for certain fruits and vegetables. Squash was one of them. Thus your recipe would have been:

        Lemon and Parmesan Squish

        Actually, it’s not bad…

        August 19, 2012
  6. a #

    And that’s why dogs need their own beds…although, I swear, if you turn over too loudly, they take it as an invitation to go for a walk.

    August 18, 2012
    • I always said I’d never be one of those people who lets their dog sleep in bed with them, but then we got Thunder and she was so damn cuddly it was unbelievable. It’s like sleeping with a living teddy bear who nuzzles into you and makes you happy every night as you fall asleep.

      Of course, it also has its downside, as described above. . . 🙂

      August 18, 2012
  7. Me…I wrestle crocodiles in my sleep *sigh*

    August 18, 2012
    • Tess, have you ever wrestled a crocodile in real life? I heard (last year, from friends who have gone croc hunting) that if you scratch them under the chin–like up and down their throats–that they will fall asleep. Like, immediately. Maybe you could try that in your dream and both you and the crocodile could pass out and get a good night’s rest?

      August 20, 2012
      • well, gee…can’t say I have ever wrestled a crocodile in real life. A few here have…and so far the crocs are way ahead in points. 🙂

        August 21, 2012
  8. With cats it’s the perimeter march. Once Henry knows I’m awake he circles me, making sure to step on tender shins and to sniff eyelashes. This is his “I’m bored and you are required to entertain me now” dance. Sigh. Nothing to do but get up and eat.

    August 19, 2012
    • Sandy Sue, the idea of a cat sniffing eyelids is so stinking cute. I can’t stand it. I’ve never had a cat but Scott grew up with them. His sister has two Maine Coons that are ENORMOUS. They’re basically like monkeys, climbing everywhere.

      August 20, 2012
  9. I don’t do aerobics, but my mom always said I swim in my sleep. Also, this recipe sounds like what’s for dinner! Thanks!

    August 19, 2012
    • Really? I swim in my dreams a lot too. Almost every time I remember a dream, it has water in it. Usually ocean water or some weird architectural space filled with water. Usually it’s scary for other reasons (I don’t worry about drowning–usually someone’s chasing me, though). I take it this means (a) I have to pee, and (b) I have a lot of anxiety about life. Oh well!

      August 20, 2012
  10. Amy #

    I really need to make some squash before the summer’s over. What a yummy idea to add some parmesan.

    August 19, 2012
    • Yes! I didn’t used to like yellow squash but now we have it at least once a week. Parmesan is so great with it because squash isn’t, you know, the most naturally tasty thing in the world without some bold flavors, like sharp cheese and lemon.

      August 20, 2012
  11. Well, if you find you are getting too much rest, you can always fall in love with each other all over again — works wonders for the sleep schedule (not).

    August 19, 2012
    • Oh my goodness, I think about those early days and I blush!

      August 20, 2012
  12. Ellyn #

    My little brother is a notorious sleep-wrestler/kicker/puncher. We used to take large summer trips with my mom, aunt, cousins, and grandmother. My brother was the youngest, and usually slept with my grandma at hotels. She never said anything about all the abuse she was taking, until we started to wonder at the large, purple bruises she would end up with all over her legs. After that, he slept on the floor.
    It’s hard being the youngest, or so I’ve heard…

    August 20, 2012
    • Oh my goodness! That is precisely why I was frightened to fall asleep with my poor great grandmother.

      I bet those big trips were fun. What kind of places did you go to?

      August 29, 2012
  13. One of my friends is stupidly active in the nighttimes. Like, getting up and wandering around and opening cupboards and shouting ‘THEY’RE COMING TO GET US’. Scott, you’re not so badly off. Though admittedly your situation does sound a bit grump-inducing…

    August 20, 2012
    • This cracked me up.

      Scott loves zombie movies, books, etc. I could not be less interested in them, and I don’t like horror movies in general (though I know zombie is it’s own genre or whatever). The point is that he’s made me watch a few zombie movies, and now I dream about zombies all the time. Nightmares. Terrible ones. And he NEVER does but wants to so badly, and basically it’s all his fault and stuff.

      August 29, 2012
  14. MrsH #

    I was always a “no dogs in the bed” person myself but I’m a softie who would have cracked if we hadn’t ended up getting ridiculously large dogs. At 75 and 110 pounds, respectively, I don’t feel tempted to have them snuggling in bed with us. Besides, when one of them can just lay her head on the bed right next to your face, it’s practically the same thing. Regardless of being in the bed or not, they seem to view even the act of rolling over as an invitation to play time.

    The squash looks delightful, but then again, I’m partial to just about anything sauteed with butter and topped with lemon juice and Parmesan. 🙂

    August 20, 2012
    • Wow, yes I bet you’d HAVE to have a no-bed rule for dogs that size. Thunder’s 30 and Seymour’s 20-something, and even that’s hard sometimes. A friend of mine just got TWO great dane puppies. And she weighs, like, 110 lbs. I don’t know how she’s going to do it, but they’re positively adorable puppies.

      August 29, 2012
  15. you remind me of Mike Birbiglia. Instead of Sleepwalk With Me, you could make a film called: SleepCOOK With Me!! Feel free to privately message me for more brilliant ideas 😉 !!

    August 23, 2012
    • On it. Must learn how to use video camera.

      August 29, 2012
  16. Rachel #

    I made this squash recipe tonight and it was delicious (and easy). I sure do enjoy your blog and recipes. Thanks.

    August 26, 2012
    • Rachel, I’m so glad! Thank you so much for letting me know that the recipe worked for you–that makes me happy.

      August 29, 2012

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