So I recently had some friends over and baked a spaghetti squash for them. Pretty soon after my friend C told me that her mother found a kind of local version of the spaghetti squash, which is the sharksfin melon. I was really intrigued because the spaghetti squash is great for baking but usually the sharksfin melon is used for soups. Both melons, of the cucurbita species, have flesh that shreds easily with cooking. Which is why the Cucurbita ficifiola is known as “sharksfin melon” as the flesh looks a little like cooked sharksfin in soup. Spaghetti squash or cucurbita pepo is a yellow melon and more closer in flavour to a squash or pumpkin.
Yellow spaghetti squash and a green sharksfin melon.
Nonetheless I decided to try to bake the sharksfin melon – it turned out a little bit more liquid than the spaghetti squash, but it was manageable and held up fairly well in the baking. I still think that the sharksfin melon is best cooked in soups but this might be my go to substitute when I can’t find a spaghetti squash to bake.
The baked melon drew inspiration from lasagna – I had been kind of craving lasagna and I was feeling a bit to lazy to make zucchini layers which is my go to method to make lasagna low carb. In the end I killed two birds with one stone and finished my sharksfin melon experiment and had pseudo-lasagna as well!
Clockwise from top left: hollowed our sharksfin melon; layer the ricotta over the meat sauce and top with mozzarella cheese. The final product is lasagna like – albeit a little moist at the bottom. Note that no sharks were hurt in the making of this dish. 😬
Baked Sharksfin Melon
- 1/2 sharksfin melon
- 500 g ground beef
- 2 celery ribs, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Preheat an oven to 180 deg C.
- Cut the melon in half and scoop out the seeds. With a brush, coat the cut surface of the melon with 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper
- Bake for 30 Min in the oven. Take the melon out and shred the flesh and set aside. Drain any liquid that has accumulated.
- Mix the sharksfin melon shreds with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside.
- Turn on the sauté mode of the Instant Pot. Heat up 2 tbsp olive oil and sauté the onions, carrots and celery till softened.
- Add the ground meat and brown it.
- Add the balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and wine, as well as the canned diced tomatoes.
- Add the salt, pepper and bay leaf and stir through. Turn off the sauté mode.
- Close the Instant Pot and seal the valve. Cook for 20 minutes.
- Do a natural pressure release, then put the pot back on sauté mode for another 10 minutes to thicken the sauce.
- When done, layer the meat sauce, the ricotta and melon mix then a layer of mozzarella cheese in the melon shell. Repeat again.
- Bake for another 10 minutes at 180 deg C. Serve hot.