Back to Basics

Back to Basics: Chayote

By Ashley Beck | July 9, 2013

chayote

Photo: Josuah

Chayote is Native to Mexico and Central America and is a member of the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae, along with cucumbers, squash, and melons. Similar to summer squash in taste and consistency, chayote was one of the many crops introduced to Europe by early explorers. In many Asian cultures the stems and leaves are more often used in stir-frys and soups. In Latin America, the fruit is the more popular entity, and is prepared in various ways.

Peak Season: Fall through late Spring.

Nutritional Value: A great source of amino acid and vitamin C. Both the chayote leaves and fruit are edible, and have diuretic, cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory properties. Teas made from the fruits leaves have been known to relieve arteriosclerosis, hypertension, and to dissolve kidney stones.

Prep: So many different names and yet so little familiarity in many parts of the world, Chayote is a great example of how we can expand our fruits and veggies repertoire and regain the variety we once had.  There are so many great ways to prepare these fruits, which much like avocados and tomatoes are typically used in savory dishes like the sauté of chayote with corn and jalapeno chiles, shown below. Other great ways to use chayote is by adding it to enchiladas like this Avocado Tomato Enchiladas Recipe  or shaved into this Detox Recipe: Red Cabbage Slaw Salad.  My favorite is adding roasted chayote (roast whole until flesh gives when pricked with a fork) to a succotash. Try it in Red Rooster’s corn succotash recipe .  With its versatile flavor profile and the fruit, stem and edible leaves, chayote is the ideal cooking companion.

 

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