Gardening Articles: Edibles :: Vegetables

Chayote (page 3 of 3)

by Jim Wilson

Harvesting and Using Chayote

Chayote fruits can be eaten at any size, but are best when small. Pick them before they begin to split and germinate on the vine, or before the vines are injured by frost. Store fruits by wrapping them individually in newspaper to protect them and keep them from drying out. The best storage temperature is 50° to 55° F. Or, steam and freeze your excess harvest.

Chayote is very versatile. Use it in any dish where you would use cooked summer squash. Steamed and diced, it's particularly good in vegetable or seafood salads. It combines well with fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, dill and fennel, as well as with onions or shallots and garlic. Chayote is also commonly halved and stuffed. (Note: The sticky juice released by the skin can irritate your hands. Try rubbing vegetable oil on them before peeling the fruits.)

I particularly like the following recipes from Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables by Elizabeth Schneider.

Salad of Chayotes, Corn and Tomatoes

This very pretty salad, mellow and slightly tart, should please summer diners (and lunchers).

2 medium chayotes, about 3/4 pound
2 medium ears of corn, husked
6 medium plum tomatoes (about 1 pound), peeled, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens
1/3 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon crushed hot pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup light olive oil
1/3 cup minced parsley

Quarter chayotes and set on a steamer rack ove boiling water; cover and cook until not quite tender -- about 20 to 25 minutes. Set corn on rack during the last 7 to 8 minutes. Let both cool briefly. Peel chayotes and cut flesh into 1/2-inch cubes.

Cut corn kernels from the cob; combine in a bowl with chayotes, tomatoes, and scallions. Blend together lime juice, salt and red pepper flakes. Beat in olive oil. Toss gently with vegetables, then add parsley. Chill until serving time. Serves 6 as a side dish.

Gratin of Chayotes and Potatoes

Traditional creamed potatoes with a few twists.

1 1/4 pounds chayotes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (including the seed)
11/4 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped fine
21/2 tablespoons flour
11/4 cups milk
1/3 cup heavy (or whipping) cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
white pepper to taste
3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese

Drop potatoes into pot of boiling salted water. Boil about 2 minutes, until half-cooked. Add chayotes and boil about 3 to 4 minutes longer, until tender. Drain.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan over low heat. Stir in shallots and pepper and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Scoop into dish. In same pan melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add flour and stir for a minute. Add milk and cream and stir with whisk over moderate heat until mixture boils and thickens. Lower heat and stir 2 minutes longer. Return shallots and pepper to pan with sauce; add salt, nutmeg, and white pepper. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup cheese.

Spread potatoes and chayotes in shallow baking dish. Add sauce and mix gently with rubber spatula. Smooth top and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Cover with foil.

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