I learned to love chayote, an edible gourd that is known as pipinola here in Hawaii. You may recall that I learned to ferment with it, cook with it, and even how to breed it for the characteristics that chefs find desirable.  Here is a look at the start of one of my 10 minute meals.  When I was getting ready to travel, pipinola were ripening, so I took the time to shred the fruits in a food processor, pack into 1qt freezer bags, then squeeze out the air from the bag.  The result were a nice stack of pipinola blocks.  Today, as you see in the image, I took one of those frozen blocks, dropped it into my slow cooker, and added tomato, onion, chili pepper, taco seasoning, pumpkin and more to the mix.  I will leave it to cook all afternoon, and when I return from the farm, dinner will be waiting.  This same technique would work for chili.  The pipinola takes on the flavor of the taco spices, and acts as a great filler.  It is a great way to add vegetables to your cooking, while also making use of the fruits at your doorstep. I have plans on topping the lot with refried beans and cheese before stuffing the mix into tortillas.

I just returned home to find my neighbor telling me that he can smell my cooking down the street!  It is a homemade smell that we all want to come home to.  I just finished it by thickening it with a can of refried black beans, and some of yesterday’s rice…and I realized that this would make a great dip too!  I will be happy to eat this in many different ways in the days ahead.  Taco salad?  Maybe my kraut tacos…with scrambled eggs in a breakfast burrito.  See the bottom photo to see the transformation it made while I was at the farm trellising more pipinola vines.  Now it is time to top with cheese and test it out.

 

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Written by squash and awe

My love of food and cultures have taken me around the world, dropping me into my current location in Hawaii. I have been loving cooking, photography, gardening, baking, and outdoor adventuring, since back when I was filling a Girl Scout sash with badges. My locations may change, and my activities continue to grow in number, but deep down inside, I still love curling up with a good book, squealing about in a classic car, and making stick-to-your-ribs meals out of homegrown goods.

3 comments

  1. Anna, I also have a bunch of pipinola on my counter. I usually roast it with kabocha and add it to the soup. I have been reading your posts on fermentation and want to try it. Question….do you peel Skin and remove seed before shredding the pipinola? The skin is pretty tough on my chayote. Aloha, Pat

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    1. Oh, that sounds good too, Pat. I actually bred a variety with a softer peel. I find though, even the tougher ones soften with the salt fermentation. I use the shredding disk on my food processor and just feed them in…in quarters usually.

  2. Very young ones seem to have a tenderer skin, but it isnt just the toughness of the skin that makes me peel it but to avoid the latex sap, so I oil my hands before peeling. Some of them seem to grow with a more pronounced 5 petal shape at the vine end and those end up slicing pretty like pale flat flowers. I usually slice pipinola/chayote thin and the fat end gets quartered before making thin slices and saute all with a bit of olive oil then minced garlic. It’s a lot like sauteed zucchini to me. I also really like it in stews as the tender flesh doesnt get mushy. It is also tasty raw like pupu or pickle marinated in ‘Lemon Grass sauce and marinade’, by uCook. It’s Hawaii made.

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