What’s cooking today: Parmesan gem squash

What’s cooking today: Parmesan gem squash
Tony Jackman’s Parmesan gem squash which is finished under an air fryer grill, served on dinnerware by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

I have a small handful of signature recipes, and this is a hybrid version of my Parmesan gem squash, adapted to be finished in an air fryer.

The element above the air fryer basket can be used exactly as you would a regular oven’s overhead grill. You just have to box cleverly. I felt that the cooked gem squash, if placed at the bottom of the air fryer basket, would not be close enough to the overhead grill to caramelise as I wanted them to. So I inverted a foil tin as a platform for them to sit on. It did the trick perfectly.

The squash are first halved, seeds removed, and steamed. Once the flesh is tender, you scoop it out and mix it with butter and finely grated Parmesan, season with salt and pepper, fill gem squash shells to the brim, top with Parmesan and grill them. It’s a lovely side dish to a meaty or fishy main course.

(Per 1 squash, multiply as needed)


1 gem squash per serving, to be served in one half shell

1 Tbsp butter per squash

Finely grated Parmesan, as much as you like

Salt and pepper to taste


Halve the gem squash, remove the seeds, and steam over boiling water until the flesh is soft. It’s best not to boil them as the shells become too soft.

Retain the best looking, firmest half shells. You need one half shell per one whole squash; the flesh of a whole one fills half a shell perfectly.

Scoop the flesh into a bowl, add butter (1 Tbsp per squash) and lots of grated Parmesan, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

Scoop the mixture into half shells, one half shell per the contents of a whole squash, so multiply as you need to: two squash need two half shells, etc.

Grate more Parmesan on top of each, generously.

Place a foil tin at the bottom of the air fryer basket, upside down, or use a rack or other item which will serve the purpose. Place the squash halves on it, making sure that they will not touch the grill element.

Air fry for 8 minutes at 200℃ or until the Parmesan topping has turned golden brown. Pause the air fryer and check along the way in case it’s done sooner. It took eight minutes in mine. DM/TGIFood

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.


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