Embarking on a culinary journey with gem squash opens up a world of possibilities beyond the conventional steaming or boiling methods. How to cook gem squash, a member of the summer squash family, this tennis ball-sized vegetable, with its robust green exterior and tender inner flesh, offers a subtle flavour that captivates the taste buds.
Particularly beloved in warmer climates like South Africa, gem squash becomes a culinary gem in its own right. In this guide, we’ll explore the art of How to cook gem squash, revealing not only the traditional methods prevalent in South African kitchens but also unlocking a cheesy twist that’s sure to elevate your dining experience. From potjies over open fires to the indulgent cheesy gem squash, join us as we unravel the secrets to transforming this humble squash into a delightful side dish that complements your favourite roast meat. Let’s dive into the nuances of gem squash preparation and discover how to cook gem squash to unleash its full potential in your kitchen.
What is gem squash?
Gem squash, a member of the summer squash family, is approximately the size of a tennis ball. Characterised by its robust green exterior and tender inner flesh boasting a subtle flavour, gem squash thrives in warmer climates, finding particular favour in regions like South Africa.
Indulgent Cheesy Gem Squash
Unlocking the full potential of gem squash involves more than just steaming or boiling. In South Africa, a culinary tradition involves placing halved gem squash upside down in a potjie, allowing these gems to absorb rich flavours from the stew while being cooked in a 3-legged cauldron over an open fire. Alternatively, for a delightful twist, consider filling a gem squash with creamed sweetcorn, generously covering it with cheese, and baking it to perfection in the oven. However, this cheesy gem squash recipe’s details will have to wait another day.
Gem squash can be enjoyed through steaming or boiling. In South Africa, halved gem squash absorbs flavours from stews when placed upside down in a potjie, a cauldron cooked over an open fire. Alternatively, you can fill gem squash with creamed sweetcorn, cover it with cheese, and bake it for a unique twist.
1. Begin by cutting the gem squash in half through the middle. Use a tablespoon to scoop out and discard the seeds.
2. Using a microwave, lightly sprinkle the cut halves with salt. Arrange them upside down on a dinner plate and microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes (adjusting for the size of the gem squash) until the flesh is fork-tender.
3. place the squash in a saucepan with lightly salted water for stovetop cooking. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for about 5 minutes or until the flesh can be easily pierced with a fork.
4. Scoop the flesh into a serving dish after cooking the gem squash using either method.
5. Add butter and grated cheese, stirring to combine. Sprinkle extra grated cheese on top.
6. Transfer the dish to a preheated oven (200C/400F) and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.
Serve the gem squash hot as a delightful side dish alongside your favourite roast meat.
Written by Tia Sauls
Feature Image: Linda Lawrence