Thursday 10 October 2013

Gem Squash with Bolognese Sauce Recipe

I have a glut of gem squashes in the garden at the moment, and as I've never really used them much up to now, I've been experimenting with recipes for how to prepare  them (I even have a South African recipe to turn them into a starter or a dessert).

This recipe is based on another South African original that I've Europeanized by substituting a bolognese sauce for the original chakalaka. Of course, as a result, as well as a novel way of using gem squashes, this recipe also gives you a traditional recipe for bolognese ragù (bolognese sauce) that you can serve with your own pasta dishes, or use as the meat base for a lasagne.

Want something different to the usual spaghetti topped with bolognese sauce? Well, why not try this delicious gem squash recipe instead. Simple to make... it works well with bought sauce, but is much better with home-made. Topped with cheese this makes a substantial starter, or served with salad it gives you a whole meal. Though the recipe given below uses beef mince, you could substitute finely chopped pepperoni or, for a vegetarian version substitute finely-diced mushrooms. So here is a classic Italian recipe, with a bit of a twist.

Gem Squash with Bolognese Sauce Recipe

Serves: 4
Boiled gem squash half, served topped with bolognese sauce and grated cheese


2 gem squashes, halved and with the seeds scooped out

For the Bolognese Sauce:

400g (1 lb, scant) lean minced beef
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
45g (1 1/2 oz) butter
8 tbsp milk
250ml (1 cup) dry white wine
1/8 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
400g (15 oz) tinned Italian tomatoes, with the juice

4 tbsp cheese, grated
freshly-ground black pepper, to taste


Begin with the Bolognese ragù: Add the olive oil and butter to the base of a large, heavy-based cooking pot. Set over medium heat and when foaming add the onion and fry until softened (about 6 minutes). Now add the carrot and celery and cook for about 2 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Crumble the beef into the pot and cook, briefly, stirring constantly, until the meat is just coloured on the outside. Season to taste with salt and freshly-ground black pepper, then pour the wine into the pot. Bring to a simmer and continue cooking until almost all the wine has evaporated, stirring frequently. Chop the tomatoes and add to the pot along with their juice. Bring to a slow simmer then reduce the heat to the merest murmur. Secure the lid and continue cooking for 4 hours. After this process the ragù will keep for at least four days in the refrigerator.

When ready to serve re-heat the ragù then bring a large pan of lightly-salted water to a boil. Halve the gem squashes and scoop out the seeds from the centre. Add to the pan of boiling water and cook for about 25 minutes, or until cooked tender.

To serve, set the gem squashes on warmed plates and spoon the bolognese sauce into them. Sprinkle over the grated cheese and serve immediately.

If you like your cheese melted, then just pop this under a grill (broiler) for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.

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