This little green marvel is delicious, healthy, and inexpensive.
Credit: Getty / Nungning20

You are wandering around your supermarket produce section, and you spot a pale jade-green object that looks like a weird pear or avocado. If you pick it up, it is firm and solid, and smells, well, sort of green? Depending on where you are in the country it will be called chayote or mirliton, and whatever it is called you should absolutely get to know it. 

What is chayote?

While technically a fruit, chayote it often called a squash due to the texture and flavor, which is similar to a combination of zucchini and kohlrabi. The skin is edible, and the fruit surrounds a single large seed, which can easily be trimmed out. Although chayote is mostly served cooked, it can also be served raw: usually salted, left to drain, and mixed with other vegetables. It works well in this way as a part of a slaw, for example, bringing fresh crunch and a bit of bitterness. Sautéing slices in butter or olive oil with just salt and pepper bring out the subtler qualities, and make a terrific side dish, especially with rich roasted meats or braises that need some crunch and brightness to perk them up.

But nutritionally is where the chayote really shines. It's low in calories, carbs, and fat, and contains vitamins and minerals that include folate, Vitamin C, and B6. Less than 25 calories per cup makes it the perfect thing to bulk up other dishes to make them a bit more satisfying.

How to cook with chayote

You can add chayote to any blend of roasted vegetables, dice it and add it to soups or stews, or add to stir-fries. You can also use it as a substitute for other ingredients like kohlrabi or green papaya.

Chayote also takes well to pickling and marinating in citrus, and works well in spicy dishes like salsas or curries. It is seen a lot in Mexican, Honduran, and Guatemalan cuisines, so if your grocer does not carry it, try your local Latin markets.

Recipes that feature chayote

Ready to add this healthy little vegetable to your cooking? Here are some of our favorite recipes with chayote to get you started: