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Spicy Carrots & Gem Squash

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HistoricFoodie View Drop Down
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    Posted: 25 July 2015 at 08:23

When I was researching Cape Malay cuisine I came across numerous references to Gem Squash. Apparently, it is the favorite vegetable among the Cape Malay people.

Gem squash is a round squash, visually resembling a spherical zucchini. It’s flesh is denser than the summer squashes we’re familiar with, and it’s used as either a summer or winter squash. Far as I know, it’s only grown in South Africa. Certainly it’s the only place where it’s grown commercially.

Then, while searching for something else, I found a gentleman in Michigan who not only grows Gem squash, he had seed he would be glad to share with me. Naturally, I took advantage of his kind offer, and planted it this year.

My primary goal is to grow a seed crop, this year, in order to assure seed in years to come. But I have been selectively harvesting the squash, just to see what the shouting is all about. I can well understand why it’s so popular. Imagine a zucchini with a denser flesh and much deeper flavor. Then convert it to a baseball-sized ball. That would be a typical Gem, although they do grow bigger and smaller.

The following recipe shows one of the many ways Gem squash is used by the Cape Malay people. I adapted the recipe from the book, Traditional Cape Malay Cooking, by Zainab LaGardien.

I wondered about the word “spicy” in the title. There’s only salt, and nutmeg used. Remember, though, that unlike the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, the Cape Malay cuisine does not depend heavily on chilies and other hot spices. Turns out, there’s just enough seasoning to perk up the flavors.

I believe this recipe would work using mature (that is, fairly thick) zucchini or crookneck squash, cut in two or three inch lengths. If you try it, monitor it as it cooks, because the squash might cook faster than the carrots. If so, remove them until the carrots are tender, then return them to the pot to reheat.

As is usual, the ingredient amount “bunch” is ambiguous. I started with store-bought baby carrots in a bag, and used an amount physically equal to about half the volume of the squash. Turns out I could have upped that considerably. Based on their thickness, I cut the carrots into either two or three lengthways slices. That worked out perfectly. I thought, too, that I might have to melt additional butter onto the veggies, but that proved unnecessary. Much of the water boils away, and you’re left with a lovely butter sauce.

Because zucchini and yellow squash lack the depth of flavor found in the Gems, you might want to add a bit of pepper to the cooking water as well. I would try it the first time just as the recipe is written, then adapt as necessary.

. SPICY CARROTS AND GEM SQUASH

½ bunch baby carrots     
3 young squash
½ tsp salt     
Large knob butter
Pinch ground nutmeg

Peel and slice carrots lengthwise. Halve squash at their equators and remove seeds with a melon baller.

In a large saucepan, steam the carrots and squash in about a cup of water with the salt and butter, covered. When softened (about 15 minutes), serve with a sprinkling of nutmeg.
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drinks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 July 2015 at 13:50
For those who do not have the gem seed, try tatume or I hate to write the name, calavaza squash, ( for thase who know a little spanish, calavaza means squash, so the name is either " squash, squash or calavaza, calavaza.)
What people will name something!
I suspect most winter squash would work nicely, you just need to collect the squash well before the seeds and skin get hard.
My favorite is butternut, makes a nice sorta summer squash with more flavor than the usual summer squash.
Carrots also make a nice imitation pumpkin pie.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 July 2015 at 20:08
You're absolutely right, Drinks. Immature winter squash can be used interchangeably with summer squashes. I usually use my KY Flat Tan pumpkins just that way.

Immature winter squashes, as a rule, have deeper flavor than the summer ones, even when used the same way.

In this case, though, I was so pleased to be able to grow the actually squash used that I had to give it a go. Glad I did.

Hopefully, I'll have enough seed this fall to share with folks who'd like to grow this wonderful squash.
But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drinks Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 August 2015 at 12:03
After some looking and comparing, I am about 90% convinced that gem and tatume squash are the same plant.
Pictures of both, in various lighting conditions plus the fact both can be used as either a summer squash or winter squash are very suggestive.
The one thing I could not find is the habit of the plant, tatume runs like a race horse, if gem is the same, I would be about 99% sure.
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