South Africa Series: Mushroom, Swiss Chard & Black Bean Stuffed Gem Squash
When I first got here I kept running to these strange, round balls at the grocery store mistaking them for avocados and being hugely disappointed when I realised they weren’t. Since they were odd-looking imposters rather than my one and only love (avocados), I had no interest in finding out what they actually were. But slowly, I started to realise they were in fact mini versions of that stringy squash and were native to South Africa, so one day instead of walking straight past I gave in to my curiosity and here we are, stuffed gem squash.
Ena, my lovely housemate from uni and I went through a stuffed vegetable phase last year. For a week we stuffed tomatoes, aubergine and capsicum and joked about how we’d keep going until we were stuffing French beans – making these had me totally reminiscing. Stuffed veg may seem like a hassle but the process is a lot easier than it seems and the reward is an interesting dish that will look and taste impressive. These are great for sharing over dinner especially if you’re having a few people over as you can prepare more, and each person can have their own.
If you can’t get a hold of gem squash, have a go with other types of squash but you might need to double the stuffing and obviously adjust cooking times. I was also lucky enough to get my hands on an imam baildi dip that has spicy Mediterranean aubergine and chilli flavours from Food Lover’s Market, which I used to add heat to my stuffing. Using sauces and dips I have lying around is one of my favourite ways to experiment with new flavours so try using what you have at home – think tapenades, pesto, harissa or the alternative spices in the recipe, I leave this last bit for you to decide xxx