Friday, December 2, 2011

What the Heck is Chayote?

Our Chayote Model at the Franklin Inn.
My first experience with Chayote [chah-YOH-teh] was in Mexico.  John's parents were in the practice of renting a house in Mexico for a month at a time.  I'd get to tag along for the last week of this adventure (work schedule permitting). They'd also hire a Mexican cook or chef to come to the house and prepare meals for the duration. This was a great way to gain fresh insights into Mexican cooking, learn new techniques, recipes, brainstorm ideas, and of course, taste new foods. Rice was served with many of these meals. One cook made her rice with peas and diced veggies including chayote. At first I thought it was a green carrot. She had cut all the veggies to the same bite size shape and it had the same texture (due to being cooked in the rice). But, I was told it was "chayote."

Chayote is from the gourd family and is sometimes called Mexican Squash among other names. Apparently, it was first cultivated in Mexico and the Aztecs and Mayans ate it.  Like the tomato, chayote is actually a fruit.  It can be eaten raw and has a mild flavor.

Vegetable Medley with Chayote, Yellow Squash and Zukes.
According to the chayote  is "low in calories and chock-full of vitamins and other nutrients." A half cup has 11 calories and a couple grams of dietary fiber. It has no cholesterol or fat and is extremely low in sodium. Various sources have reported medicinal properties of chayote. A tea made from the leaves is used for lowing blood pressure, dissolving kidney stones and treating atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Have you used the chayote in your cooking? If so, I'd love to know how you prepared this popular Latin American vegetable (or fruit).

This weekend Chef Dale is including chayote in his vegetable medley along with yellow squash and zucchini. Come on out and give it a try.

No comments: