Many years ago, I was never a big fan of vegetables even if they were deep fried in butter. Things change though and so are the taste buds I guess. I find that squash is always a very interesting vegetable, it has a some edible seeds and it has a unique flavor. You can eat it in different forms like stuffing it with rice and meat (Egyptian mahshy), bake it, put it in soap and many other dishes. It could get watery though if not cooked correctly. Squash also comes in all different shapes and colors. Unlike in Egypt, squash comes in one form and one color that is green cylindrical shape. It is also cheap over there so it is an easy to cook and an affordable vegetable. The squash in Egypt is equivalent to the summer squash in USA. So, for this dish, we will use that type of squash. I twisted it a little bit when it comes to the meat layer by adding tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.
- 10 -12 pieces of squash to fit the regular pyrex size
- 1/3 teaspoon cumin
- 1.5 pounds ground beef
- 1 big onion diced in small pieces
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/3 cup parmasean
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons oil
Wash the squash well, then slice it into circles as above. Make sure to remove the top and bottom parts of each piece. Bring water to boil and add the squash to boiling point for about 5 minutes with some salt, pepper and the cumin. Strain it from the water and set aside.
In a hot medium pot, add some oil to brown the diced onions until light golden color then add the ground beef. Move it around on low heat so it does not stick together. Do not add salt in the beginning until it gets all the meat juices dried up (when that meat juice becomes less visible in the pot). Add the tomato paste and the water (1/4 cup), or you can replace that with tomato sauce if easier. Lower the heat and simmer it for 15 minutes.
Béchamel sauce Ingredients
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 8 tablespoons oil for the sauce
- 4 to 6 cups of milk depends on the thickness you like. So start with 4 and add as needed.
- 1/2 teaspoon for the nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- 1 egg (to be used at the very end as noted below)
In a medium pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook until the whole mixture turns a golden color, about 4-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the milk so when added the flour, it does not become lumpy. Add the warm milk to the mixture while you are whisking. Be careful since the steam can get really hot! Add some salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes while whisking constantly, then remove from heat. If too thick you can add more milk.
Now is the easy part, just arranging the tray with layers of squash, meet and the béchamel on the top. Add a layer of squash, then the beef + half of the parmesan cheese then squash then some parmesan then the béchamel sauce. Beat an egg very well and spread it on the top of the béchamel.
In a 400 degrees oven, bake for about 45 minutes or until the béchamel is golden and bubbly.