This spiny chayote reminds me of an old man who needs a shave! I bought the chayotes from an elderly Chinese woman selling them in her front yard on Fruitvale Avenue in East Oakland. They were so prickly that I had to use oven mitts to handle them at home and use a fork to steady it while I peeled it with a knife.
Chayote squash was grown by the Aztecs who named it chayotli in their Nahuatl language. I combined ingredients of Mexican and Spanish origin to make this salad. I drew inspiration for this recipe from Ensalada de chayote written by my friends and gourmet role models, Victor M. Valle and Mary Lau Valle, in their fascinating book, Recipe of Memory: Five Generations of Mexican Cuisine
Chayotes come in smooth skinned varieties as well, but Victor and I agree that the spiny ones are more flavorful. I suppose I could make some sort of analogy to life or raising kids who are hard to handle but, well I’ll let you finish that sentence.
1 large or 2 medium chayotes
about 10 Kalamata olives
15-oz can drained garbanzo beans
1/2 tsp minced fresh oregano or 1/4 tsp dried oregano.
1 cucumber, peeled
1 small avocado
¼ cup cilantro leaves
handful of fresh lettuce leaves for each bowl
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
2 Tb fresh lime juice,
½ tsp salt
pinch of chipotle chili powder
Boil whole chayote with 2 cloves smashed garlic and a tsp salt for 30 minutes until tender. Let cool in refrigerator, then peel, remove pit, and slice. Add kalamata olives, garbanzo beans, and oregano.
Dressing : Whisk 2 Tb garlic olive oil, 2 Tb lime juice, ½ tsp salt, with a pinch of chipotle powder. Pour over salad. Let sit for several hours.
Cut a peeled cucumber and a small avocado into bite sized chunks. Gently toss in salad with two sliced and quartered radishes and ¼ cup sliced cilantro leaves.