Wily Chayote

Now what?

So, I’ve always seen these little pear-shaped squashes with ends that look like scrunched-up faces at the market, but I’ve never known what they tasted like or what you can make from them.  Turns out they’re called chayote squash, and they’re native to Mexico but used widely in other Latin cuisines.  Somehow I’ve missed out on eating them despite loving any kind of Latin food!  I bought three and stared at them, unsure how to proceed.

quick staring contest

I decided to see how they would grill up, and you know what? They’re delicious.  In my opinion, chayote grills better than zucchini and maybe even yellow squash, because it doesn’t get mushy.  I liked it so much that I plan to throw it in with some onions, mushrooms and peppers next time I make a mixed grill dinner.  You could just as easily sautee it or oven roast as well — just be prepared to hear “Are these apples?” from your guests, because they look EXACTLY like apple slices even though the taste is most definitely squash!  Here’s the simple recipe I used:

What you need:

one chayote squash, washed (optional: you may want to peel them)

1 Tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

1/4 tsp minced garlic

pinch of white sugar

red pepper flakes, to taste

1/2 tsp lime juice

Before you begin: Light your grill.  You want the heat fairly low so you don’t scorch the squash. Also, I found the skin of one of the chayotes to be the tiniest bit tough — next time I make these I may peel them just to avoid the chewiness factor.

apple twins

1. Slice the small end of the chayote off and cut into 1/4 inch slices.  There’s a seed in the middle; cut each slice in half and cut away the seed.

how to make things delicious

2. Combine olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, lime juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Pour over squash slices and toss to coat.

ready to grill

3. Place slices on a grill sheet or tray. If there’s any leftover garlic/seasoning goodness in the bowl, brush it onto the slices.  Grill ’em up! Check after 3 minutes or so, especially any thinner slices — flip if they’re starting to brown.

almost done

4. Grill for another few minutes — again, keep an eye out to make sure they’re not burning. My grill is very hot so I had to save the smaller slices from a fiery death while the bigger ones were cooking along nicely. Once you’re happy with the color, remove!


5. Sample a slice and determine whether you’d like to add any further seasoning — I wanted mine to have a little more of a kick, so I tossed the grilled squash with a splash of olive oil and a bit more salt and red pepper flakes.  And there you have it, the perfect complement to anything you’re grilling up this summer!