Chayote, also known as mirliton squash is an edible gourd which can be made in a variety of ways. Eaten hot or cold, sweet or savory, chayote has limitless possibilities. Whether green or white, smooth or prickly, this gourd has a somewhat bland flavor, like a potato mixed with a cucumber.
I had never heard of chayote before coming to Puerto Rico, but the gourd is seen around the world. It’s eaten in Brazil, the Caribbean, Philippines, Asia and Indonesia. Stir fried in China and curried in India, picked, breaded and fried are the various ways chayote can be eaten.
There’s even an annual Mirliton festival in New Orleans. On the everfest link https://www.everfest.com/e/mirliton-festival-new-orleans-la they say, “The Mirliton Festival was notoriously started “as kind of a joke.” In a state full of festivals, mirlitons just seemed to be a little left out, so the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans decided to do something about it. Running since 1989, the festival has grown and thrived, with good food and superlative music being the constant themes.
Here at TJ Ranch we have chayotes growing in a variety of places. I’m never quite sure when it’s “chayote season,” but when I see chayote in the supermarket from Puerto Rico instead of Costa Rica, then I know to look around and see if we have some…and now seems to be the time.
We eat chayotes stuffed or boiled in soups, stews or alone. We make chayote “potato salad” or grate it raw in other salads.
I found some different kind of recipes by Robin Shreeves on the website Mother Nature Network (mnn.com)
Fried “Apples”: Chayote is sliced like apple slices and fried in butter on the stove top with cinnamon and sugar. (I tried it and liked it)
. Chicken Tinola: This savory, stew-like, one-pot Filipino dish cooks chicken legs and thighs, bite-sized pieces of chayote plus other vegetables in broth.
Chow Chow Chapati: This Indian flatbread has grated chayote (called Chow Chow in some Indian cuisines) in it. It’s a way to hide some vegetables into the bread.
. Chayote Soup: Similar to other squash soups like butternut or pumpkin, this soup is made by cooking chayote with broth, onion, butter and a few other ingredients, then pureed to make a smooth, satisfying soup.
Pickled Chayote: Vinegar, onion and spices are boiled together before slices of chayote are added and the entire mixture is allowed to cool. Then it’s jarred and refrigerated and allowed to pickle.
As you can see, there’s a whole host of things you can do with chayote….so check out your local grocery store and start inventing.