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Simple cooking with Chayote

Chayote is a native Latin American, well known to the Aztecs (our word may be derived from the Aztec word chayotl), and was certainly popular with the native inhabitants by the time the conquistadors arrived. The vine is relatively easy to grow and the vegetable is long lasting and versatile. The plant is now established in many parts of the world, including China and Australia, where chayote is nearly as popular as in Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. Generally, Americans eat only vegetable part of the plant, but the vine shoots can be cooked like asparagus, and in some countries the roots are often prepared like large sweet potatoes.

The delicate, somewhat cucumber like flavor of the chayote lends itself to combinations featuring more dominant tastes. The halves can be stuffed with all manner of ingredients. Once parboiled, it can be cut into sticks or chunks and deep fried like potatoes, or it can be marinated in oil and vinegar for a crisply tender salad. Add it to soups, stews, and casseroles like any other summer squash. Feature it in stir fries or vegetable curries. It can be thinly sliced and eaten raw in salads, but I prefer it parboiled several minutes before chilling and dressing. In the Caribbean and western Africa, it is even used in sweet desserts.

Chayote is low in calories and relatively high in vitamin C and potassium.

Unfortunately, in many areas chayote is absurdly expensive, a fact that is difficult to understand given the vines’ tendency toward prolific growth.

 

More about cooking with Chayote


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