If you’re wondering how to eat chayote, also known as choko, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll explore eating chayote, including how it tastes, how to cook chayote, and recipe ideas to try. So whether you have a chayote vine growing in your yard or you’re just curious as to how to use this versatile fruit, read on to find out more.
What is Chayote?
Chayote, whose botanical name is Sechium edule, belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family which includes pumpkins, cucumbers, squashes, and melons. Originally from central Mexico, chayote is also known as cho cho,, mirliton squash, choko shu shu, and pipinola.
Of its family members, chayote is probably the most similar to summer squash including zucchini. The most common chayote in the United States has a thin pale green skin that is lightly furrowed. The inner flesh is pale and crisp. And they are roughly the size of an avocado. They are also really good for you being high in vitamin C and potassium.
Although most people are familiar with eating the chayote fruit, the whole plant is edible. The tubers are eaten like potatoes and the leaves and shoots are eaten in salads and stir-fries.
What Does Chayote Taste Like?
Chayote is crisp and has a mild, fresh taste similar to baby marrows or summer squash such as zucchini. They have also been said to taste like cooked cucumber or mild apples.
Because of their mild taste, they are versatile for cooking and often take on the flavors of the other ingredients used in a dish.
Can You Eat Chayote Raw?
Chayote is delicious raw but is not often eaten alone. A popular way to eat raw chayotes is to add them to salads, smoothies, and salsas. Marinating chayote in lemon or lime juice to give it more flavor. And chayote can be added to fruit salads for a crisp texture and refreshing bite.
How to Eat Chayote
Chayote can be eaten raw or cooked. There are also many ways to prepare chayote for eating, try thinly sliced, shredded, julienned, or diced.
Raw chayote can be used as you would use cucumber. You can add chayote to salads, slaws, salsas, smoothies, and sandwiches. Uncooked chayote can also be pickled or marinated in lemon juice for a delicious tangy flavor. And raw chayote is tasty in a fruit salad where it’s firmer texture creates some crunch.
Chayote can be boiled and eaten as you would eat summer squash like zucchini. They can be roasted with a medley of other vegetables or roasted on their own. Chayote can be fried, steamed, or boiled. And chayote adds substance to soups and stews.
When sautéed or stir-fried, chayote retains its crisp freshness but it can be boiled and mashed too.
How Long Does Chayote Take to Cook?
If you are boiling chayote and want it completely soft for mashing then slices or chunks of chayote will take 5-10 minutes to cook.
Whole or halved chayote will take 15–20 minutes to boil.
If sautéing or stir-frying julienned chayote, it should cook in under 5 minutes as you want to retain a little crispness.
Health Benefits of Chayote
Chayote is low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in nutrients, making it a great food for many diets. But the health benefits of chayote go beyond weight loss.
Chayote is high in many vitamins and minerals namely folate (vitamin B9), vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and magnesium.
Its high folate content has made it one of the cancer-fighting foods as folate promotes healthy cell division. Folate is also particularly important during pregnancy when there is rapid cell division occurring in the fetus.
Chayote contains potent antioxidants which fight disease and illness by protecting against cell damage, reducing inflammation, and lowering stress within the body. This high antioxidant content makes it good for promoting heart health.
Traditionally, chayote was used in Mexico to control heart disease as it improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure. The antioxidants reduce cholesterol and inflammation.
Chayote is said to promote blood sugar control. As it is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates it makes you feel full while eating less. Fiber also slows down the absorption of carbohydrates which helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
Beyond this, studies have shown that there is a compound in chayote that increases insulin sensitivity so it may help control type 2 diabetes.
The antioxidants in chayote may also slow visible signs of aging.
Chayote contains minerals that help with liver function by preventing a buildup of fat in the liver. A buildup of fat can cause fatty liver disease.
How to Prepare Chayote for Cooking
Chayote skin is edible, however, it can be peeled before or after cooking if you prefer.
When the skin is removed from the raw fruit, it secretes a sticky liquid. So rinse your hands and the chayote well after peeling.
Some chefs advise peeling chayote under a running tap. Once cooked, this sticky substance disappears so is not an issue when peeling cooked chayote.
Halve the chayote and remove the seed. Chayote has one largish seed, usually smaller but similar to an avocado. The seed is edible and can be cooked with the flesh or kept for another occasion. Alternatively, the fruit can be cooked whole and the seed removed after cooking.
Then depending on how you would like to eat your chayote, proceed to cut the fruit into the desired size and shape for cooking or eating raw.
Now that you know how to eat chayote you might like to try out some recipe ideas.
Chayote Recipe Ideas
Chayote with Tomato and Green Chile – from Simply Recipes. If you find that chayote can sometimes be a little bland and you like more flavor to your food, then this is the recipe for you. It’s spicy and packed with flavor and texture. It can be used as a side or as a vegetarian meal.
Chayote Slaw with Mango Vinaigrette – from Cooking Channel. This is the perfect summer salad. The mango and chayote combination is a common one in Puerto Rican cuisine and when you taste it you will see why. The salad is crispy and fresh. It is a treat for the taste buds as well as the eyes.
Cheesy Tomatillo Enchiladas with Chayote Squash, Spinach & White Beans – from Blue Apron. These enchiladas are packed full of vegetarian goodness, including chayote squash, and topped with a creamy sauce. A meal the whole family will enjoy.
Chayote Squash Patties – from Life with Lorelai. These are some of the most delicious vegetarian patties you will come across. They are packed with nutrients and flavor and they are an awesome vegan option.
Chayote Squash Sambar – from Spicy Tamarind. Sambar is a delicious Indian cuisine and is full of flavor and spice. This recipe contains quite a few ingredients that may not be in your grocery cupboard unless you cook a lot of Indian food. It is definitely worth going out to find these interesting ingredients if you have a sense of foodie adventure.
Chayote Squash and Pickled Onion Salad – from Pati Jinich. This fresh Summery salad will have all your friends asking for the recipe. It is the perfect side to a summer barbeque. It can be prepared the day before and thrown together in no time on the day making it delicious and convenient.
Chayote, Avocado, and Strawberry Salsa – from The Perfect Pantry. This salsa combines textures and flavors to create a magical side to fish or grilled chicken. Not only is it nutritious and delicious but it also looks great on the plate.
Chayote Soup – from All Recipes. A heartwarming soup that is smooth and creamy, without using cream, and filled with flavor. It is a great meal for a winter day.
Moru Curry with Chayote Squash – from Framed Recipes. ‘Moru’ means buttermilk in Malaysian so a moru curry is a curry that uses buttermilk in its preparation. This moru curry is comforting and spicy and will have your family asking for more.
Stewed Chayote in White Wine – from Mexican Food Journal. This Traditional Mexican dish is so simple and so different. It can be eaten as a vegan meal or enjoyed as a side dish.
Chayote Squash Fries – from Naughty Kitchen. These are a great low-carb alternative to regular fries and can be eaten as a side dish or as a snack with a dipping sauce.
Tasty and Crispy Chayote Fritters – from Meal Planner Pro. Fritters are a great way to disguise vegetables for those who are not big veggie eaters. Kids in particular love fritters with a good dipping sauce. They can be eaten as a main meal or as a side dish.
Chayote Casserole – from My Food and Family. This is an easy one-dish family meal. It is delicious, comforting, and packed with nutrition.
Sautéed Chayote Squash – from The Spruce Eats. This simple recipe elevates chayote from an everyday dish to something you can serve to friends and guests as a side dish on summer evenings.
Chayote Dessert Recipes
Chayote makes a wonderful apple substitute for desserts. For this reason, many dessert recipes using chayote are often mock apple-type desserts. The chayote texture is crisp like an apple and the texture of the cooked fruit is very similar. Chayote has a very mild flavor and has even been said to have a slight apple flavor, making them the perfect apple substitute. They are also a popular ingredient for keto, paleo, and gluten-free diets.
Almond ‘Apple’ Crumble (i.e. Chayote Squash) – from Gnom Gnom. If you are on a keto diet or you are reducing your intake of carbohydrates for whatever reason, this is the recipe for you. This ‘apple’ crumble uses chayote instead of apples due to its low carb count. This is the perfect treat for the carb-conscious chef.
Apple Crisp Cheesecake – from Divalicious Recipes. A decadent cheesecake dessert that’s also low carb and topped with chayote in place of the apple.
Keto Custard Apple Tart – from My Sweet Keto. Chayote is again used in place of apples for this mouth-watering custard ‘apple’ tart. Serve this at your next morning tea to really impress your guests!
Chayote is a wonderfully versatile vegetable to eat and use in cooking. From salads to stews and even desserts, chayote can be cooked and eaten in so many ways. So whether you have a bag full of chayote to use up or you are new to eating chayote, I hope you have found some inspiration for using them in your next meal.
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