The pear-shaped chayote squash is native to central Mexico. The squash, also known as a mirliton, has been cultivated and used in Louisiana cuisine since the mid-1800s. While it doesn't enjoy the popularity in the rest of America that zucchini, pumpkins, and other better-known gourd fruits do, it offers many health benefits. The chayote squash is low in calories and carbohydrates and rich in fiber, vitamin C, and many minerals.
The mild flavor of the chayote is sometimes compared to a cucumber or zucchini, and it can be eaten raw or cooked. The chayote's firm, crisp texture and the fact that it absorbs flavors make it an excellent choice for sautés and salads. Its firmness also makes it ideal for spiralizing.
This sautéed chayote makes a fabulous side dish that goes with just about any main protein. Serve it with fish or seafood, meat, poultry, or as a vegetarian dish. A combination of butter, shallots, and garlic takes advantage of this squash's ability to take on flavors. Feel free to finish the dish with a garnish of fresh herbs, Parmesan cheese, or crisp, crumbled bacon.
- 4 chayote squash (or mirliton, about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 shallots (thinly sliced, about 3/4 cup)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced, about 1 heaping tablespoon)
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- Black pepper (freshly ground, to taste)
- Optional garnish: chopped chives, parsley, and/or grated Parmesan cheese
Gather the ingredients.
Peel the squash and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Place the squash on a cutting board, cut-side down, and slice it thinly. Repeat with the remaining chayote squash.
Melt the butter in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they are tender and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute longer.
Add the sliced chayote squash to the skillet and continue to cook, tossing often, for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve chayote squash with a garnish of fresh herbs or Parmesan cheese, if using.
- Many grocers carry chayote, and it can usually be found in markets selling Latin foods. If you can't find chayote squash in your local market and you live in an area with a long, hot growing season, you might be able to grow it in your garden.
- Look for a chayote squash that is even in color, firm, free of blemishes, and on the smaller side. The squashes are sold ripe but will keep for a few days on a cool kitchen counter or in the crisper.
- Chayote squashes have an edible peel, but since it is not as tender as the flesh, we recommend peeling the vegetable before cooking for this recipe.
- Add smoky flavor to the sautéed chayote with some finely diced ham or cooked bacon.
- For additional color and flavor, sauté about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of red bell pepper along with the squash.