The farmers market is a prime venue for people watching. For instance, I recently saw a young boy show his latest produce find to his mom and exclaiming, “It looks like you sat on this pear, mommy!”
Indeed, it did. Though this junior produce analyst holding a chayote, which is comparable to a pear in shape and to an apple in taste. The facts get crazier, though. Chayote, also called mirliton, is in the gourd family alongside our beloved butternut squashes and cucumbers.
Now’s the short window when you’ll find chayotes at some local farmers markets. The leaves and shoots are often consumed in Asian cuisines and the chayote’s flat pit can be eaten right along with the crispy flesh.
My best advice for prepping this find? Don’t get hung up on its sweetness. Below are seven wonderfully savory suggestions for your next meal:
Sautéed chayote with garlic—Bon Appétit
Let’s start simple: there’s a decent chance you already have garlic, onions and parsley in your possession. If not parsley, any bright, green herb (think cilantro) will do. Serve with a soft-poached egg and some toast.
Elote spring rolls—Food52
I am screaming over this recipe. I’ve been a long-time devotee to Mexican street corn, and these rolls take those flavors to a whole other level with mango, red peppers and chayote. Crunchy, cheesy and spicy: yes.
Braised chicken and chayote—Chow Hound
The first thing this recipe does right? Using chicken thighs, especially for a cooking method as taxing as a braise. There’s no place for boneless, skinless chicken breast here. With the high heat and slow cooking, any lean meat will dry out by the time the 35 minutes in the pan are over. Take these leftovers, chop and mix with a little mayonnaise and you have a #notsaddesklunch.
Chayote orange salad—Food & Wine
A great early spring salad. Don’t be afraid to use the last of all the winter citrus in this. The first two steps to the recipe are inconsequential if crunchiness is appealing.
Well, the texture is similar to a potato’s. So, fries are a logical conclusion, right? Pair these with a black pepper aioli.
Chayote, avocado and macadamia quinoa—Food52
The ultimate side dish for fish. Try a shishito pepper instead of the jalapeño for a pepper that’s lighter on the kick but gives a complementary sweetness to the coconut milk.
Chayote and heart of palm salad—Epicurious
Cut everything up a few days in advance, and toss together when ready to serve. Simple and bright, adding asparagus would bulk up this appetizer to a meal, if desired.