Not only is the pear-shaped fruit of the Chayote plant edible and nutritious, but so are the leaves and young growth shoots!
Chayote leaves are best suited for cooked applications such as boiling, stir-frying, baking, steaming, and sautéing. They are commonly added raw or steamed to salads, soups, and chop suey. They can also be sautéed or stir-fried as a vegetable side dish or combined with other ingredients and made into dumplings. In Mexico, Chayote leaves are also served with mole and boiled chicken. Chayote leaves pair well with garlic, herbs such as mint, dill, and cilantro, meats such as pork, shrimp, and chicken, rice, yogurt, peanuts, lime, and cherry tomatoes. Chayote leaves will keep for a couple of days when stored in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator.
Chayote leaves are traditionally used in the Americas and the Caribbean for its anti-inflammatory properties. In Belize, Jamaica, and the Yucatan peninsula, the leaves are boiled and made into a tea infusion to help reduce symptoms of coughs, colds, indigestion, kidney stones, and hypertension.
Only the last 5 or so inches of each stem are harvested, as the more mature stems and leaves become too tough and fibrous for good eating.
Sautéed Chayote shoots on rice with a side of tofu
A handfull of fresh Chayote shoots
1 cup of dried rice
4 fat slices of extra firm tofu (you could also use a nice firm fish, or even chicken if you prefer, I'd also make this dish with a hard-boiled egg as the protein).
2 cloves of fresh or 2 tsp of minced garlic
Soysauce or tamari
Plum sauce or Hoisin for topping (amount to taste). (you could substitute your favourite sauce of any kind here..peanut sauce, chutney, teriyaki, or siracha would all be nice).
1 Tblsp coconut oil
Start by getting your rice cooking as this will take by far the longest. I love using a rice cooker as its so easy! The water ratio in a rice cooker is 1.5 Cups of water to 1 cup rice, on the stove its 2 Cups water to 1 cup rice.
When rice is about 10 minute away from being cooked, heat coconut oil in a skillet (frypan) and as soon as it starts to sizzle, lay your tofu slices on. Toast them for about 2 mins each side, then remove from the pan and set aside.
Throw you Chayote shoots onto the pan whole for effect, or you can chop them smaller to make them easier to eat :) . Throw the garlic in at the same time. stir for 1 minute, then add a splash of water, and place the lid on letting the steam soften the shoots for 5 minutes. Take the lid of and add your Soysauce, and get ready to plate up!
Heap some beautiful fresh rice on the plate, layer your shoots on being sure to scoop up the bits of garlic and Soysauce in the pan, add the tofu slices, and then top with plum sauce or hoisin!