Chayotes belong to the summer squash group of vegetables, but you're more likely to find them in Mexico and other tropical and semi-tropical areas around the world. Chayotes grown commercially in the U.S. have a pale, lime-green skin and resemble an avocado in shape and size, while varieties grown outside the U.S. come in browns, tans and reds, and vary widely in their shape and size. Chayote has dense flesh with a taste redolent of cooked cucumber -- mild yet distinctive. These sturdy squash take readily to the grill, and give you several avenues for flavoring and seasoning due to their semi-neutral taste.
Things You'll Need
- Kitchen knife
- Paring knife or vegetable peeler
- Paper towels
- Mixing bowl
- Salt and pepper
- Seasonings to taste
- Wooden skewers (optional)
- Vegetables such as cherry tomatoes or pearl onions (optional)
- Grill brush
Cut the chayote in half, lengthwise along one of the seams. Cut through the seed or remove it, but don't discard it. It has an almondlike taste and grills well.
Peel the chayote with a paring knife or vegetable peeler, if you wish. Like most summer squash, chayote skin is edible, so it's a matter of personal preference, like peeling a zucchini. Chayotes have thin skins, so don't go too deep into the flesh when peeling.
Rinse the chayote if you peeled it. Chayote has a viscous, sticky, saplike substance under the skin that some people find undesirable. Pat the chayote dry with paper towels.
Cut the chayote into cubes or slices large enough to not fall through the grill grates. Placing the chayote cut-side down on the cutting board and cutting it crosswise gives you slices you can easy to manage on the grill. You can also cut it into 1/2-inch cubes and thread it on skewers later to make it easier to grill. Chayote has dense flesh, and takes a substantial amount of time to cook, so cut the slices no thicker than 1/4 inch.
Place the chayote in a mixing bowl and drizzle it with oil. Season the chayote to taste with salt and pepper and add the herbs and spices of your choosing. Chayote has a mild taste and is open to numerous flavor interpretations. Fresh thyme, rosemary and basil all pair well with chayote, and you can add thinly sliced shallots, too. Although some of the shallots won't stick to the chayote throughout the entire cooking time, you'll still get the roasted flavor of them.
Thread the chayote onto skewers if you cut it into cubes, spacing each piece about 1/4 inch apart. Skewers make the cubes easier to turn on the grill, and give you the opportunity to cook them with other vegetables. For example, you can skewer a chayote cube, then a cherry tomato, then another chayote cube, followed by a pearl onion, and so on. You can also squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the chayote to brighten the flavors.
Store the bowl of chayote in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld while you set up the grill.
Set up the grill to cook indirectly. If you have a charcoal grill, fill a chimney starter with lump charcoal and ignite it. Wait for the charcoal to ash over, and empty it on opposite sides of the coal tray, leaving the center open. Scoot the charcoal as far to the sides of the tray as you can using a stick or other implement and close the lid. If you have a gas grill, light the two outside burners and leave the center burner off, or light one side of the burners and leave the other side off. Set the burner temperature to medium and close the lid.
Scrape the grill clean with a grill brush. Place the chayote in the center of the grill, or the area that doesn't have heat underneath it. Space each piece of chayote or skewer about 1 inch apart and lay the seed on the grill also. Close the lid.
Grill chayote slices for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side, or until they reach the desired tenderness. Grill the seed until it pierces easily with paring knife. Turn the chayote and its seed over once during grilling.
Grill cubed and skewered chayote about 15 minutes, or until they pierce easily with the tip of a paring knife.
Remove the chayote skewers or slices from the grill when they reach the desired tenderness.
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