Chayote Squash

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For such an odd-looking vegetable, it’s hard to imagine chayote squash as such a yummy ingredient. They’re native to Latin America, but if you grew up in Louisiana you may know them as mirliton. The whole fruit can be eaten, including it’s skin, seeds, leaves, and root. Most commonly compared to summer squash, chayote can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of ways: pickled, grilled, stir-fried, or baked. Toss them into stews or curries. Mash them like potatoes or fry them like french fries. Because it’s flavor is so subtle, I suggest to season it with garlic, herbs, cheese, nutmeg, vinegar, or citrus. Best of all, its inexpensive at just 99 cents per squash!

T <3 

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BASICS

AKA: mirliton · cho-cho · choco · pipinola · pear squash · mango squash · vegetable pear

Origin: Mexico · Costa Rica · Asia · Australia

Plant: Sechium edule

Varieties: white · prickly

In Season: winter

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HEALTH

Benefits: supports healthy blood pressure · low-calorie

Nutrition: amino aids · fiber · potassium · vitamin C

Replaces: zucchini · cucumber · apples or under-ripened pears

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SHOP

Store: specialty grocers · Asian or Hispanic markets · near other exotic fruit at your local supermarket

Selection: Choose firm, smooth light green squash about 6-inches in length. Avoid any with wrinkles, bruises, or multi-coloring–a sign it’s over ripe.

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PREPARE

Preparation: If cooking chayote, peel it first, then cut in half length-wise. Scoop out the soft, white pit in the center with a spoon, then slice or dice. If serving chayote raw, you can leave the skin on or peel it off then thinly slice or finely dice.

StorageKeep chayote refrigerated in a plastic bag and use within 2 – 4 weeks of purchase. If sliced or cut, store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container and used within 3 – 5 days.

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EAT

Taste & Texture: grassy · crisp like an apple · mildly sweet

Suggested Uses: add raw to salad · cook into stews and soups · add to sweet or savory pies and baked goods · batter and deep-fry · use in homemade jams, chutneys, or dip · add to stir-fry

Recipes: 

Chayote Frittata

Chayote Salad (via Munchies by Vice)

Stuffed Chayote (via Serious Eats)

Chayote Casserole (via Emeril Lagasse)

Chayote Enchiladas (via NYT Cooking)

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MORE

Chayote Drawstring Backpack

Chayote Pin

Fun Facts: 

  • In New Orleans, a chayote festival is held once a year.
  • Chayote and its leaves have been use as medicine to treat vascular diseases and kidney stones.
  • In Australia, a rumor once spread that McDonald’s Apple Pies were made with chayotes, not apples.
  • Chayote vines are woven together to make rope in the West Indies.

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COOKS NOTE

Chayote are best minimally cooked, or al dente. Once translucent and tender with a little bite, it becomes sweet (to the point you can easily pair it with fruit). If overcooked, it gets mushy and bland. Chayote is best thinly sliced when eaten raw.

 

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