It's not often I get to learn about new fruits and vegetables but there is much to learn about this funky squash called Chayote. I (mistakenly) assumed this green pear-shaped squash originated in Asia because of its prevalence in Asian cuisine but it is actually indigenous to the Americas! What!? That's cool! It made its way to Asia during the first phase of colonial "discovery" of the Americas in the 15th century and became a permanent culinary fixture in South Asia and the Far East. It also made its way to two Indian Ocean islands: Mauritius and Réunion.
Mauritian and Réunionnais folks call chayote "chao chao" and in both countries they lightly sauté it with some herbs. It has a really mild taste, similar to zucchini/courgette. Because it's cooked in garlic, olive oil and thyme, this is a great dish to pair with other Mediterranean-style food.
This is my mother's chao chao recipe, which my family normally eats as a side dish with lentils and rice. Since it is super easy to prep, I especially recommend making this if you're new to cooking and want an easy win :)
•salt & pepper
Serves 4 as a side
Wash and thinly slice three chayote squashes, keeping the skin on. You can eat the whole squash so there is basically no prep to do here. The central pit is soft and edible as well. Dice a small white onion and mince three cloves of garlic.
In a pot that has a lid, heat some olive oil and add the onions and garlic. When they get nice and fragrant, add the squash, along with 1 teaspoon of fresh (or dried) thyme, a teaspoon of salt, and half a teaspoon of pepper. Cover and let everything cook on medium low. The squash will release water, so everything will steam and soften (important: keep the lid on). This will take about 20 minutes. Give everything a stir occasionally.
When the squash is fork tender, take the lid off the pot and let the extra water cook off. Season with salt and pepper to your own taste and then serve as a side dish.