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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, August 11, 2022


Aug. 12, 2001 – Beneath the furrowed, pale-green skin of the chayote squash is a bland-tasting flesh that combines appetizingly with a host of more pungent-flavored ingredients. Also called christophene, this gourd-like fruit which we treat like a vegetable was a favorite food in the diets of the ancient Aztec and Maya peoples.
When shopping for chayotes, look for squash that are small, firm and unblemished. The skin is typically smooth, but some chayotes have prickles on the outside. Ready to eat, they can weigh anywhere from eight ounces to five pounds and range in length from 3 to 8 inches. You often can find the smaller ones at roadside stands as well as in the produce sections of local supermarkets.
Once you get them home, chayotes can be refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to a month. The chayote can be prepared in any way suitable for summer squash. With its zucchini- or cucumber-like taste, it can be eaten raw and used in salads. Or it can be fried, baked, broiled, sautéed, steamed, mashed or microwaved. It also goes well in soups and stews.
My favorite way to prepare chayotes is to boil them, split them in two, and then stuff them with a mixture of scooped-out chayote flesh sautéed with onion, garlic, bacon and Parmesan cheese. Even kids will like their veggie-fruit this way.
Chayote stuffed with cheese, onion and bacon
3 large chayotes
6 slices bacon
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Place whole chayotes in a large pot; cover with salted water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, or until chayotes are tender. Remove fruit from water and allow to cool, then cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp (including the edible seed), mash and set aside. Reserve the shells. Fry bacon in skillet, then drain on paper toweling or newspapers. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat in the skillet. Fry onion and garlic in the oil. Mash and add chayote pulp, salt and pepper to taste. When pulp mixture become tender, stir in Parmesan cheese. Immediately stuff mixture into chayote shells. Place shells on a baking sheet. Sprinkle tops with paprika. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until cheese browns. Makes 3 to 6 servings.
Food fact: The chayote is a good source of potassium, vitamin C and dietary fiber. One medium-sized fruit that weighs about 8 ounces has just 50 calories. That's before you add the bacon, of course.

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