Sunday, March 6, 2011

March Challenge - Still Unknown

So my original idea was to do Chayote for the March challenge. I found them at the farmers' market and since I had never tried them before I figured that this was the perfect item.

For years I've seen this odd looking food around. Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? I have no idea. I do know that it's a squash - so botanically it's a fruit, but legally I have no idea. Why do I say "legally?" Well, the USDA likes to have stuff in their own neat little boxes. And they determine what is a fruit or a vegetable. Sometimes their rulings don't match up with the botanic definition. Tomatoes are the perfect example. Botanically they are fruit. Legally they are vegetables. Weird.

A spiny Chayote
OK, so back to the chayote. It's a squash that likes to grow in the winter. They come in a smooth and a spiny form. I have never tried it before though, so when I found them at the farmers' market I immediately knew what March's challenge was going to be. I bought two from a farmer only knowing what he told me. That they were sweet and should be boiled or sauteed. With this recipe I decided to do both.

I made this dish for that challenge only to be disappointed this past weekend when I went to the farmers' market and the farmer that I had bought them from the week before wasn't there. No Chayote. I will keep looking for them this week to continue this challenge. As a backup, however, we'll move on to mustard greens since we've got a very nice patch of them in our backyard ready to pick. 

Sausage and Mushroom Stuffed Chayote

2 Chayote cut in half lengthwise
2 Sausages removed from casings
1 Tbs oil
1 medium onion, chopped
10 mushrooms sliced
3 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 oz cream cheese
3 Tbs Cilantro, chopped
Hot Sauce to taste

1. In boiling, salted water, cook the chayote halves for 30 minutes.
2. Remove chayote from water and allow to cool until you can handle them. Scoop out seed and discard. Scoop flesh out of the skin, creating a shell.
3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat add oil and brown sausage, breaking it up as it cooks. Once browned add onions and mushrooms and cook until onions become translucent.
4. Turn down heat to low and add chayote flesh, cheeses, cilantro and hot sauce. Stir until ingredients are well mixed.
5. On a cookie sheet place scooped out chayote "shells" and fill shells with sausage mixture. 
6. Bake in a 350 deg F oven for 30 minutes.
7. Serve.

They chayote tasted like a sweet zucchini. I was pleasantly surprised. So much so, that we will hopefully be adding them to our garden next year. Everyone I had talked to said to remove the skin. One of them definitely had tougher skin, but it's paper thin, similar to the skin on a bell pepper. The other chayote had more tender skin so we just ate the entire thing.


  1. We have a neighbor that grows chayote, and the vines always trail over the fence between our yards, and the chayotes hang all over the duck enclosure (looking like creepy alien pods). This last year we experimented a little with them, but didn't find them to be particularly palatable. We'll have to try your recipe this upcoming season - they grow very well out here, and we'd love to find a way to enjoy them!

  2. I like to slice them raw and put them in salads. When raw they have the crunch of an apple but much less sweet and a little starchy.

  3. That sure is a strange looking thing,but if it's good that's what counts. A year without groceries,how do you do it? I admire your courage. and I am so impressed! Blessings jane

  4. oh, how wonderful! I'd seen them before but had no idea what to do with them. "sweeter than zucchini" sounds so yummy!!