Here is a lovely side dish or appetizer that appears on many menus in the Caribbean. Christophine is a squash and one of the most common locally grown vegetables that are sold in Caribbean markets. In Mexico, this same squash is called chayote, and it appears in many US grocery stores. Christophine (chayote) is about the size and shape of a large Florida avocado, with either light green or pale-yellow skin and white flesh.
It can be peeled, cubed, and sauteed in place of zucchini. It can also be boiled or baked, the flesh scooped out, mixed with onion, cheese, and herbs, and stuffed back into the skin and re-baked as in the recipe below. The skin and center pit are not eaten as they are very fibrous and tough.
Traditionally this dish would include breadcrumbs, yet in this recipe, the grated cheese, chopped walnuts, and parsley make a healthier and tasty gluten-free substitute.
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Boiling Time: 20 Minutes
Baking Time: 20 Minutes
2 medium Christophine (chayote) squash
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ small yellow onion, chopped
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 medium garlic cloves
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon nutmeg, grated
½ cup grated cheese (Gruyère, Comté, or Swiss cheese)
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Cut squash in half lengthwise, remove the seed, and place in a pot of boiling water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, bring to a vigorous boil, then reduce heat to a gentle boil for another 20 minutes. Drain and remove from hot water to cool. To proceed quickly, place squash in a bowl of cool water for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a saute pan to medium heat, add olive oil, then onion, salt, and black pepper. Heat with an occasional stir for 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent, add garlic, thyme, and nutmeg, and heat another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
As squash cools, scoop out the flesh with a spoon, leaving the skin as an intact shell. Chop squash flesh finely. Combine squash with cooked onion, herbs, spices, and grated cheese. Stuff combined contents back into the squash shells. Combine grated Parmesan cheese, chopped walnuts, and chopped parsley, then garnish each squash with this mixture.
Bake on a middle shelf in an ovenproof pan for 20 minutes.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes prior to serving.
Steven Masley, MD
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