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Chayote Gets Around the Dinner Table as a Side, Salad, Soup and More

The pear-shaped plants cost less than $1 each at the San Juan Capistrano Downtown Farmers' Market.

Chayote—a squash-like plant—is a staple of soups prepared at El Campeon and El Campeon Mercado. “We peel them and cut them into squares for our chicken and beef soups," said co-owner Sergio Gonzalez.

He said that it’s simple to make a vegetable soup with the chayote by simply adding it in the broth with tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and corn. 

The two types of chayote—smooth or prickly—are as versatile as a zucchini. They're available for less than $1 each at the downtown farmers market. Gonzalez boils the rounder, spiky chayote, then peels it, slices it and drizzles honey over the slices. He describes the chayote meat as “tender and firm.”

The chayote may have a bland flavor when not seasoned or added to another dish, but it packs a good punch of vitamin C and is only 25 calories per a 132-gram serving, according to Fruits and Veggies Matter More. The chayote is also known as the "vegetable pear" because of its shape. It belongs to the gourd family that includes melons, cucumbers and squash.

The light green plant can be prepared by cooking, mashing, baking, frying, boiling and stuffing. Chayote recipes includes chile relleno, casseroles, salads, chili and egg dishes.

Avoid chayotes with dark spots, and select those that a firm and smooth.

Basic Chayote Appetizer or Side


Ingredients:

1 to 1½ tbs olive oil or canola oil

1 chayote, cut into ½-inch lengths

1 clove, garlic or 1 cube pre-crushed, frozen garlic, available at Trader Joe’s

½ tsp salt to taste

½ tsp black pepper to taste

½ tsp sugar

¼ tsp red pepper flakes, if desired

1 tsp red wine vinegar

Directions:

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, squash, salt, pepper, sugar and red pepper flakes to hot oil. Mix together and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add vinegar to the mixture and cook another 2 to 3 minutes more until the squash is slightly wilted but remains firm and on the crunchy side. Season further, if desired.

Cheesy Chayote Bake

(from Kraft recipes)

Ingredients:

3 medium chayotes, sliced (about 4 cups)

2 epazote leaves (an herb)

1 tbs oil

3 large poblano chilies, seeded, cut into thin strips

1 large onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, minced

1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained

1 pkg (8 oz.) Kraft Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers, sliced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chayotes and epazote in saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Bring to boil on high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 10 minutes. Drain; discard epazote. Set aside. Heat oil in small heavy-bottomed skillet on medium heat. Add poblano chilies and onions; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in jalapeño peppers.

Layer half each of the tomatoes, poblano mixture and chayotes in 2-quart baking dish; sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat all layers.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until mixture is heated through and cheese is melted.

Judith Anderson April 26, 2011 at 05:38 PM
Hi Cheryl, The photographer Judith Anderson here, and have always like the Chayote. Iv;e seen it used for years in Mexico and the mercados & restaurants here too of course, so thanks for these recipes! When I lived in JAMAICA, the Jamaicans also use this "vegetable?" as a fruit replacement for apple pie, peeling, then slicing, and then spicing it just as we would for our American standard, with cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and topped with vanilla ice cream. In Jamaica and the Caribbean, it is also called 'CHO CHO". Nice, huh? Judith

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