Other names: Mirliton, Vegetable Pear, Mango Squash
Availability: All year.
Source: Caribbean, Mexico and the United States.
Handling Tips: 34°F. Keep cold and dry.
General Information: Now very popular, the chayote squash blends flavors of turnip, cucumber and zucchini. The pear-shaped, summer squash, which is grown in warmer and more tropical climates such as the Caribbean or Mexico is pale green or white in color with a smooth or prickly skin, the Chayote has a creased rind that is usually peeled, exposing a white inner meat with a single soft, seed in the center. Chayotes come in two common varities, the smooth variety shown here and a prickly variety (covered in spines).
Nutritional: A good source of vitamin A, potassium and fiber.
Applications: The chayote can be sliced and sauteed or deep-fried. Somewhat similar to zucchini, the meat of this squash has a firmer texture than zucchini and provides a mildly sweet flavor. The chayote's mild tasting contents make it a versatile vegetable to be boiled, fried, sautéed, or steamed for use in soups, as a stuffed squash, in stir-fried dishes, or served in salads.
History: Chayote (Sechium edule) was actually domesticated in Mexico and seen in South American until after the Spanish conquest. (Sophie Coe, America's First Cuisines). The starchy squash was a staple of the Aztecs. The name chayote is derived from the Nahuatl world chayotli.
The Mayans added chayote shoots (as a green) to beans and also ate the fruit and the starchy roots.