As mentioned in my last post, I bought some gem squash to try during my last trip to the farmers’ market. They’re commonly eaten in South Africa but it’s the first time I’ve ever seen them in Australia and I’ve never tried them before. If you haven’t read the comments on my last post, I suggest you go back and read Cindy’s because she gives a bit of interesting background on gem squash and how they’re eaten in South Africa.
For a bit more info on gem squash you can click here and here (interestingly, when I googled I didn’t find any South African sites near the top of google – just Australian – but mostly by South African expats living in Oz). I just discovered you can buy seeds in Australia so depending on space and how many other wonderful things I want to try, you may see them in my vegie garden next year.
I bought two gem squash bigger than a tennis ball but smaller than a softball/baseball. And man were the skins hard. It reminded me of a Queensland blue pumpkin for those that know it. Having done a bit more reading about gem squash now it seems strange that the skins were that hard this early in the season. I’d also love to try them when they’re younger (golf ball size) as the skins are meant to be more tender than and when they’re older and supposedly more like a pumpkin.
The farmer told me he cuts them in half, scoops out the seeds and stuffs them. He normally cooks them in the microwave but sometimes in the oven. Seeing as I had other things in the oven both nights when I cooked the squash it seemed appropriate to give them a go in the oven. Also, the idea of a microwaved stuffing doesn’t really do it for me. I like the slightly caramelised top that oven baking gives you.
My rough method was cut in half, scoop out seeds, lightly cover in olive oil and bake in oven (first night 15 min@180ºC, second night 10 min@220ºC). Then stuffed them before baking them again at the same temp and for the same time as the first bake. With stuffing they were very yummy. They came out similar in texture to spaghetti squash, if anyone has tried that before, with strands of squash flesh separating from each other. The first night the flesh was lovely and soft and the second a little grainy and not quite cooked. So I suggest two bakes of 15 min each at 180ºC for gem squash of similar size to mine. I did two bakes because I was scared I’d over cook the filling.
Night one was finely diced bacon (from “happy” pigs of course!), spring onion, mushroom and green bean.
Night two was finely diced fetta, tomato, onion and basil.
Both were delicious stuffing mixes and I’d recommend them for not only gem squash but marrow and tomato if you ever do stuffed versions of these vegetables. The gem squash its self had a kind of neutral flavour. It worked well with the stuffings but I’m not sure I’d like it as say a straight boiled vegetable. I will be looking out for them again at my farmer’s market and doing a bit more experimenting.
Oh and how did the farmer stuff his gem squash? With peas, garlic and butter – another tasty sounding filling to try.