The Jew And The Carrot

Chayote, Game-Changing Summer Veggie

By Liz Traison

  • Print
  • Share Share

I recently read an article in a culinary magazine about a tasty fruit called a cherimoya, which is also known as a custard apple. I have to imagine that unless you have already tried this tropical fruit, and decidedly don’t like it, there would be no reason not to try a fruit that has the word ‘custard’ in its name.

Weeks passed, and the cherimoya information buried itself in the back of my mind knowing I’d have a hard time finding one. One day as I was running through the grocery store at my normal chaotic pace, I noticed a small, green, apple-like thing stacked between the yucca root and forlorn cactus leaf. Ecstatic that I had found this delicious custard apple, I tossed one into my cart.

As I was putting away my groceries, I rolled this new fruit in my hand, getting to know its smooth skin and defining cavernous, mouth-like bottom. That’s when I noticed the sticker, which read ‘Chayote’. I was confused, assuming that perhaps chayote was another name for cherimoya. Apparently, I was not the only person to have made this mistake because a quick Google search of ‘chayote vs. cherimoya’ produced hundreds of thousands of results.

Disappointed that I hadn’t found the deliciously-described desert fruit, I let the funky little chayote - also known as ‘green squash’ among many other names - sit in the drawer. For more than a week it sat in the drawer, though I often poked it to see if it was getting mushy or rotten (it did not), until it was literally the only thing left in my refrigerator and the grocery store was already closed. Knowing the choice was between cooking this not-cherimoya or buying lunch, which for me is an act of true desperation, I went back to the computer and googled again, this time for “chayote recipes”.

What I discovered was a world of chayote enthusiasts who like to julienne the apple-like (raw apple, not custard apple) squash on top of their tacos. Originally hailing from Mexico and sometimes also called “vegetable pear”, chayote are now widely grown in tropical areas, and have also made their way into my Brooklyn grocery store (feel less bad if you live in California, where these veggies reportedly grow very well). Chayotes are mostly water, and therefore low in calories, and have a really nice crispness too them that will no doubt be solace as the summer weather sets in.

While the skin of a cooked chayote can be consumed, I read online that when peeled, the chayote oozes a sticky, slippery juice and is recommended to be peeled under running water. Curious, I started to shave off the skin, but within 3 or 4 strokes the squash started to feel like a bar of wet soap. I nibbled on a few of the raw chayote bits I chopped and found them to be a bit bland on their own - like jicama only duller. So I chopped up some flavorful accoutrements, including garlic and ginger and tossed them into the pan with the chayote. Within just 7 or 8 minutes, the squash had given in slightly to a softened texture, like a cooked potato.

Despite not being a custard-apple, this vegetable pear won my heart. Low in calories, but high in fiber this is a nutrition packed perennial that I will definitely be buying again. I imagine shaving them down into thin slices on a mandolin, perhaps with some radishes for a crunchy salad; julienning them along with some carrots for a spunky crudité, or adding them as replacements for recipes calling for potatoes. I’m excited to experiment with steaming chayote chunks and running them through the immersion blender for a twist on mashed potatoes (cauliflower mash is so passé). And, although it’s not local, I’m excited to have found something new to add to my repertoire. But really, if you know where to find a cherimoya in Brooklyn, please let me know.

Chayote with Garlic and Ginger
½ tablespoon butter (or oil)
1 chayote, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ginger, finely chopped
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1-2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

Melt butter or fat of your choice into a medium sized pan, being careful not to burn.
Toss in chayote, garlic and ginger and sauté over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Cook until fork-tender.
For extra flavor, toss with fresh parsley to garnish.

Liz Traison is a Thought-Leadership and Capacity-Building program associate at Hazon, specializing in food education. She is an integrative health coach and founder of Eat the Change, dedicated to helping individuals eat well, feel well, and do good. She is also a 2014 PresenTense fellow, working on a blog called From Where I Stand that captures that narratives of women working in the Jewish non-profit world.

Photo Credit: Thiago Gama de Oliveria (Flickr)


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: vegetable pear, custard apple, green squash, cherimoya, chayote

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.