Kale is so 2013. Cauliflower has had its day in the sun. The vegetable that has people and Pinterest buzzing is chayote squash, pronounced "chah-yo-tay."
Chayote, also known as mirliton squash or vegetable pear because of its pear-like shape and size, is pale green on the outside, with white flesh on the inside. It's crunchy and mild "with a slightly sweet taste and light notes of cucumber," according to Specialty Produce. The entire vegetable — the rind, the flesh, the seed as well as its tendrils, flowers and roots — are edible.
Chayote squash is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B-6, folate, dietary fiber, and potassium. Although it can be eaten raw and is sometimes shredded to put into salads and slaws, it's more often cooked. It's popular in Cajun, Hispanic, Indian and Filipino cuisines, but it's becoming increasingly common to see it in other cuisines as well as farmers markets and in the produce section of grocery stores.
If you come across chayote squash, here are several recipes to help you add this gourd to your dinner table.
1. Baked Stuffed Chayote: A ground beef, bacon and vegetable mixture is stuffed into chayote shells, topped with cheese and baked in the oven, similar to stuffed zucchini or stuffed bell peppers.
2. Fried Stuffed Chayote: Cheese is stuffed between slices of cooked chayote that are then battered and fried on the stovetop to create a side dish or a main dish for a vegetarian meal.
3. Festive Chayote Salad: Cooked chayote and corn are combined with onions and tomatoes and tossed with a spicy, citrusy dressing for a fresh, tasty salad that's different from the norm.
4. Chayote and Carrot Patties: If you've ever used zucchini or yellow squash in a fried patty, then you'll have an idea what these are all about. Shredded chayote and carrot are mixed together with onions and cassava flour with eggs for binding for this paleo dish.
5. 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 is simple to make and can be used like any other pickled condiment. (Photo: Lyudmila Mikhailovskaya/Shutterstock)
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. Chayote with Tomato and Green Chile: Sautéed onion and green chiles, roasted tomatoes and tender, moist chayote combine to make a warm, flavorful dish topped with cheese.
10. Fried "Apples": Chayoti is sliced like apple slices and fried in butter on the stove top with cinnamon and sugar, just like apples would be.