Monday, November 1, 2010

Chayote (or Zucchini) Stuffed Squash

Just when we thought the produce in our produce box couldn't get any more exotic, these appeared.

It seems to me that even the most stalwart of vegetable adventurers might be forgiven for taking one look at these and stashing them in the depths of the vegetable drawer for a couple of weeks.

Fortunately, they keep well. When a second round appeared in our box again last Friday, I resigned myself to having to actually figure out what on earth to do with them.

Step 1: Consult handy weekly insert that explains what on earth is in the box. Insert calls them "chayote." Hello, chayote. You look weird. Not that weird is necessarily a bad thing.

Step 2: Consult the Google. A Wikipedia entry helpfully notes that these are also called choko and pear squash and a handful of other names, and says they are native to Mesoamerica. Also they are edible. Good to know. There are a handful of online recipes, many of which pair it with cilantro, which would require a trip to the store, and some of which suggest peeling it. This is comforting: One is not required to eat the spiny outcroppings. I peel one. It looks light green and shiny and, compared to its pre-peeled state, reassuringly domesticated.

Step 3: Gaze half-heartedly into the depths of the fridge for inspiration. Notice the Thema Sanders Sweet Potato Squash (also from the CSA box, shaped like an acorn squash but colored like a butternut) languishing on the top shelf. (No, I do not know why we put it in the fridge. It's been that sort of month.) Precipitously decide to try something random and hope for the best.

1 acorn or sweet potato squash, halved, with the seeds scooped out
Olive oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 rounded tbsp pine nuts
1 chayote, peeled, grated, and squeezed gently to drain excess liquid
   (or substitute a zucchini)
A small tomato, diced
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
A pat or two of pastured butter

Preheat oven to 375. Brush the cut surface of the squash with olive oil and set face down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes until it starts to get tender (when you poke the outside of the squash, it should give a little).

Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add the pine nuts and toast until they start to turn golden, then add the olive oil and the onion and cook, stirring, until the onion starts to caramelize. Turn the heat down to medium, then add the chayote and saute for about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, a pinch or two of salt, and a liberal dousing of freshly ground pepper, and cook for another minute or two. Last, add the parsley and butter, stir until melted, and turn off the heat.

Turn the squash cut side up. Fill each half with the chayote mixture, then return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until the squash is very soft. Let cool for a few minutes, and serve.

Serves 2, and makes for a good dinner party side dish (relatively simple for something that ended up looking so fancy, and got high marks taste-wise from our house guests this weekend).


  1. Chayote are also a good additional vegetable to throw in soups.

  2. Ooh. What else do you throw in with it? (Assuming you don't just mean that it makes a satisfying "kerplunk" sound when hitting the broth...)

  3. Well the sound aside, I've used it as an addition for chicken based soups. The chayote keep their shape and don't get all squishy like zucchini does. I think I've also had chayote in chicken and pozole soup, which is a good mexican soup.