Jan 18, 2009, 9:37 AM
Post #5 of 6
You're right, chayotes are amazingly versatile. Anything you can do with a zucchini, you can do with a chayote...well, except maybe making quick bread with it. I don't think chayote bread would be so hot. Also try Googling christophine or merliton (both of which it is called in the Louisiana) and you'll get additional suggstions. Here are some ideas you can use as a jumping off point...
Re: [tashby] What did you do with your Chayote today?
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- Cook whole, unpeeled chayote until about 3/4 of the way done. Drain, split in half and carefully remove the seed (which is edible and delicious). Gently scoop our some of the pulp to make a shell. Fill hollow with your favorite picadillo recipe to which you've added the the chayote flesh you scopped out, top with bread crumbs and a little grated hard cheese (like parmesan or romano), bake until heated through and the cheese has melted.
- Peel, pit and slice chayote. Cook until done but not mushy. Top with Esperanza's rajas con crema and eat. You can gratinee this if you top it with cheese and run it under the broiler, but that's really like gilding the lily and ridiculously rich.
- Slowly saute coarsely chopped chayote in butter with some onion until the edges carmelize and get crispy, add a chopped (fresh) chile pepper of your choice towards the end of the cooking time, season with salt, pepper and whatever herbs you'd like. This works well with beef dishes
- Add it to rice. Try this. Heat oil in the saucepan you plan to cook the rice in until hot. Toss in a large green chile (or two) and fry, turning from time to time until the chile has blistered. Remove and set aside, do not discard the oil. Chop up half a white onion and blend in a blender with up to a half cup of water and garlic cloves to taste (probably 3 or 4, more if you really like garlic) until you've got a smooth puree. Reheat the oil in the saucepan, add the rice and saute over medium heat until it is transparent but not browned. If there is excess oil left in the pan, just drain it off. Add the onion puree and continue sauteeing for about another minute until the rice has absorbed the onion mixture. Then stir in a chayote that has been peeled and chopped, a carrot or two that has been shredded and the reserved chile. Add water, cover and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed. There are a lot of vegetables in this rice dish; it could be used as a meatless main dish with a little tweaking.
- In Veracruz they make an agua fresca from chayotes, seasoning it with a good dose of freshly squeezed lime juice
- In many places the vines on which the chayotes grow are used for soup, and it is delicious.
My sister gave me The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg for Christmas. It's a book by food industry professionals that outlines cooking techniques and flavor combinations by food/ingredient from A to Z. I've been trying some of their suggestions and finding it to be a tremendous resource. Here's what they list for squash like chayote
For technique - bake, blanch, boil, braise, deep fry, grill, saute, steam and stir-fry
Highly recommended combinations - basil, cheese (goat, gruyere, mozz and Parm), chile peppers, garlic, marjoram, olive oil, onions, oregano, flat leaf parsley, sage and thyme
Other compatible flavors - butter, cinnamon, coconut, coriander, corn, cream cumin, dill, eggplant, lemon juice, mint, black mustard seeds, pecans, black pepper, rosemary, salt, Italian sausage, tomatoes, turmeric, walnuts and yogurt.
Chayotes are so neutral in flavor, and pretty forgiving as an ingredient, that you can do just about anything with them. Good luck, use your imagination and try some of the suggested cooking methods and flavors above. But above all, just have fun in the kitchen experimenting