For today’s Lunes Latinos, I have a stellar recipe to share. This recipe is proof that Latin American dishes are a labor of love. This is a simple recipe but requires some prep work that others may consider unnecessary but for us going through this extra step is just a way of adding an additional touch of greatness to the already incredible dish. I am referring to the fact that this recipe can very well be cooked on a baking dish like a casserole but instead we cook it in the natural bowl that is formed when scooping out the flesh of the Chayote squash.
Chayote squash? You may ask… let me give you my two cents on this wonderful fruit (some say is a fruit others say is a vegetable … ?). The chayote (pronounced “chai-yo-teh,” ) it is also known as pear squash or mirliton in different parts of the US. In Mexico where it was originated, they call it chayote too whereas in the Dominican Republic we call it tayota. Other Latin American countries use different terms like: chuchu in Brazil, chayota in Venezuela, cidra or guatila in Colombia and güisquil in El Salvador and Guatemaa. Lets see… where are you reading from, how it is called in your country?
The chayote is light green, shaped almost like a pear and a bit bigger than an apple. The flavor it is mild, like a cross between a potato and a cucumber. It can be eaten raw in salads or cooked however you’d like. In Latin America it is mostly used in soups and stews, with meat or simply steamed. One of my favorite Dominican dishes growing up was stewed pork with tayotas (chayotes).
For this recipe the trick is to take absolutely all of the flesh out. Take time, add lots of love as getting close to the skin will give you a nice deep bowl. “Thanks Mom for making this dish last time you visited me!” (Those are my beautiful mom’s hands)
Keep all the flesh aside as the next step will be to sauté the flesh with seasonings and flavors of your liking. I use bacon, onions, garlic and a slight touch of tomato paste.
After stuffing the chayote squash cover it with cheese.
Your chayotes will now be ready to go in the oven to bake for a few minutes so that the cheese melts and oozes out of the chayote bowl.
- 4 chayote squash
- 4 bacon strips, small diced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup grated cheese of your choice, select a cheese that melts like: cheddar, gouda or fontina
- Slice chayotes in half.
- Boil in salted water for about 20 minutes and then set aside to let cool.
- Once you can handle them, use a spoon to scoop out all of the flesh,
- being careful not to break the outer skin as this will serve as your bowls.
- Discard the core and seeds but keep the flesh aside.
- Mash the flesh with a fork and reserve for later.
- In a pan cook bacon, add onions when bacon starts releasing its oil.
- Once onions are translucent add garlic sauté for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant, then add tomato paste and stir.
- Add the chayote flesh to the pan making sure it gets covered with the onion, tomato and bacon mixture.
- Transfer mixture to a cool bowl and add egg and breadcrumbs. Mix well and the stuffing will be ready.
- Stuff mixture in squash halves, cover them with grated cheese and bake in 350 degree F oven for about 15 minutes.