Thanksgiving in our house is a balancing act.  Giuliano’s father, Victor, is not fond of turkey, or any other fowl for that matter.  For Lael’s mom, Jackie, it just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving without homemade turkey and side dishes, with all the “fixings”.  This year we are going to serve traditional American ingredients Italian style, beginning with a pasta with butternut squash as a first course, and following it with the turkey as a second course.  As a vegetable side dish, or contorno in Italian, our daughter Gabriella is making a recipe that Giuliano credits her with inventing at age 4.  

Photo by Dana Gallagher

The recipe was inspired while grocery shopping, when she presented her father with a package of yellow crookneck squash and a box of Florida grape tomatoes saying “I want this for dinner, Papa”.  Giuliano thought “why not?” and ended up creating a dish that has become a family favorite.  Not only do the ingredients look good together, the flavors complement each other perfectly. The simplicity of using only onions and marjoram, and patient sautéing to bring out the sweetness of the squash and grape tomatoes, makes this recipe distinctively Italian.

Yellow Squash with Grape Tomatoes

(From How to Cook Italian by Giuliano Hazan)

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Total time from start to finish:  45 minutes

Serves 4 people

1 medium yellow onion

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 to 3 sprigs fresh marjoram

1 1/2 pounds yellow squash

8 ounces grape or sweet cherry tomatoes


Freshly ground black pepper

1.  Peel, halve, and thinly slice the onion lengthwise.  Place the onion and olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Chop enough of the marjoram leaves to measure 2 teaspoons and add it to the pan.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns to a rich golden color, 8 to 10 minutes.

2.  While the onion is sautéing, rinse the yellow squash and cut off the ends.  Slice the squash in half lengthwise then crosswise into 1/4” thick half moons.  When the onion is ready, add the squash to the pan and sauté, stirring occasionally, until it is tender and begins to brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

3.  While the squash is cooking, wash the tomatoes and cut them in half.  When the squash is done, add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the tomatoes begin to break down, 5 –10 minutes.  Serve at once.