Summer. Is. Officially. HERE!! YAY! And with it, super warm weather all over the place. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing better to eat on a hot day than a crisp, cool, and hydrating salad. Enter this tropical chayote squash salad, smashing together Southeast Asian cuisine with Mexican/Caribbean style ingredients!
I discovered chayote (also known as christophine, pipinola, choko, mirliton, and vegetable pear among others) while working as a yacht chef sailing in the Caribbean. I wondered what the heck these weird-looking produce items even WERE when I first saw them, and I was seeing them everywhere. Finally, after many sightings but no tastings, I decided to bite the bullet and do that thing that chefs do, ordering a “Christophine Farcie avec Crabe” in a tiny waterfront restaurant in the still pretty rustic Îles de Saintes, a Guadeloupe dependent archipelago in the French Antilles.
In the event you do not speak French, “Christophine Farcie avec Crabe” means “Crab Stuffed Chayote”. And in the event you have never tried French food, it’s all pretty amazing. I was hooked immediately and introduced the dish into my tropical cheffing repertoire. And then I went to Thailand.
Chayote – which are members of the same family as cucumbers, melons, and squash – are mild, juicy vegetables. They are so apple-y when cooked that McDonalds was accused of using them in their apple pies to save moolah (disproved, btw…)! Stuffed with crab and breadcrumbs back when I didn’t know I had a gluten intolerance – AWESOME. And one day, when I discovered that the green papaya for the salad I’d learned to make in Thailand was no longer green, I turned to them in hopes that they could save me.
AND I WAS RIGHT! Turns out they taste a bit like a cross of a Granny Smith apple and a cucumber when raw – a PERFECT substitution when making Som Tam. Before you could say “green papaya salad”, I had made the switch full time because I simply liked the crunch better.
Now that they’re turning up at the Northern California farmers’ markets again, I am DOWN to bring back Caribbean-style with Cali-style ingredients!
TROPICAL KETO CHAYOTE SALAD
This is going to be one of your favorite summer salads. With a tart-sweet lime dressing, bright fresh herbs, and crunchy and juicy vegetables, this is one unique salad to delight the taste buds!
Author: Nicole Poirier
Recipe type: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Keto, Tropical, Vegetarian, Vegan, Californian
Serves: 4 – 6 servings
1 medium – large chayote squash
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
2 Tablespoons shaved sweet or red onion or shallot
2 Tablespoons roughly chopped mint
2 Tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
¼ cup roasted peanuts (you can substitute cashews or almonds if you desire)
1 Tablespoon fish sauce, coconut aminos, or tamari (soy sauce if you are not gluten free!)
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
5 drops or 1 packet stevia
Optional: ⅛ teaspoon chili flakes
Peel the chayote with a vegetable peeler, and then julienne into matchsticks using a mandoline or simply a sharp knife.
Place the julienned chayote along with the tomatoes, onion, mint, cilantro, and nuts in a medium mixing bowl.
In a small bowl, combine fish sauce or alternative, lime juice, stevia, minced garlic, and chili flakes if desired.
Pour the mixture over the vegetables, herbs, and nuts and toss well to combine.
Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with additional herbs and chopped nuts if desired.
How-To in Pictures:
Peel the chayote and julienne into matchsticks with a mandoline or sharp knife.
Combine the chayote, tomatoes, onion, herbs, and nuts in a mixing bowl.
In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce or alternative, minced garlic, lime juice and stevia. Pour over the vegetables in the mixing bowl.
Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with additional herbs and chopped peanuts. Enjoy!
Do you have any other ideas for chayote? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear!