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Pronounced [chah-YOH-teh], the chayote is another native Mexican plant and is a member of the squash family. It is also referred to as a "vegetable pear" or chcocho. In France the chayote is called a christophene. The flesh is quite crisp something like a water chestnut. The chayote is seen in two forms, smooth and prickly. More than just the chayote fruit is edible. You can use chayote flowers to decorate a salad or saute the leaves and tendrils for a side dish.
Chayote fruit will start growing should you forget to use the fruit. See last image. Chayote is a creeper, and should you wish to grow it, you would need to allow the new growth on the fruit to grow to 15-20cm. Now you can plant it just deep enough for the soil to cover the fruit, in a compost enriched soil, next to a trellis or similar onto wish it can grow.
How to Cook and Eat Chayote
You can eat all parts of the chayote (and probs should-remember the nutrients in that peel), which makes it versatile for cooking and eating. (If you remember the shrimp monologue from Forrest Gump-"you can pickle it, sauté it, grill it, bake it, roast it…"-the same goes for chayote.) Each method will bring out different flavors and textures. For example, grilling caramelizes the chayote due to its sugar content. It is low in sugar but still a fruit.
Eat it raw: Chef Saul Montiel from Cantina Rooftop in NYC uses it raw and julienned to add crunch to a salad finished with lime juice, spicy Mexican seasoning (Tajin), and olive oil.
Use it in soup: The mild flavor means that you can season it to suit any palette. Chayote can handle bold spices like chipotle, harissa, and curry. "My favorite way to use chayote is in a traditional soup that my mom served at her restaurant in Mexico: mole de olla," says Chef Montiel. It's made of chayote squash, zucchini, green beans, corn, potato, chambarete and aguja (steak) meat, submerged into a chilli broth, and seasoned with garlic, onion, and epazote (a Mexican herb). "The chayote balances the spiciness and adds a sweet taste to the short rib soup," says Chef Montiel. (Sounds like it belongs on this list of awesome keto soups that are low-carb but flavorful.)
Roast it: One of the easiest ways to begin experimenting with chayote (or any new vegetable, TBH) is by roasting it. McWhorter recommends this simple roasted chayote recipe: 2 tablespoons oil of your choice + ground black pepper + 1 pound chopped chayote. Bake at 375°F for 15 to 20 minutes. Then add salt-but only after the chayote is cooked. Science lesson: Salt draws moisture out of plant cell walls through osmosis. "If you draw moisture out while a water-rich vegetable (or fruit) cooks, it leads to a dehydrated and burnt final product with poor texture, especially with summer squash and eggplant varieties," says McWhorter. If you wait until after, you still get the salty taste-but don't ruin the chayote in the process. This tip is going to change your roasting game forever.
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