This is Cha-Cha the Chayote.
I know. You barely knew Cha-Cha.
You didn’t get to hear about Cha-Cha’s relatives, such as the squash, cucumber, and melon. You didn’t get to hear about Cha-Cha’s Central American origins, and popularity around the world– Brazil, India, Thailand, The Philippines, Taiwan, Australia, Louisiana… Damn, Cha-Cha, you got around. Not surprised, I guess, you’re pretty tasty. Mildly sweet and pleasant. Crisp when raw, tender when cooked. And you pair so well with so many flavors!
Let’s do Cha-Cha some justice.
Add some garlic, onion, carrot.
And we got some coconut and cilantro waiting by…
Coconut, Cilantro, and Chayote Medley
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 medium chayote, cut in into bite-size chunks
1 medium carrot, sliced into coins
1/2 cup cooked garbanzos
2-3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
juice of 1 lime
a few dashes each of cumin and cinnamon
2-3 Tbsp shredded, unsweetened coconut
a couple handfuls of cilantro leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1) Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion. Once the onion begins to soften, add the chayote and carrot. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chayote and carrot have started to char and become tender.
2) Add the garbanzos and pumpkin seeds, and cook for a couple minutes more. Add the lime juice, then the cumin and cinnamon, and stir. Finally, add the coconut and cilantro, salt and pepper.
Serve alongside some rice, Asian flatbread such as naan or roti, or with some tortilla chips and salsa. If you chop the chayote and carrots smaller, this would also be a great taco filling.
I can see a lot of you thinking how weird this dish is.
Okay, maybe it is… But it’s delicious.
It draws inspiration from Mexican and Southeast Asian cuisine.
It’s hearty, kinda sweet, kinda smokey, a little tangy.
Trust me. Trust in Cha-Cha.