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My clients are constantly asking me, “What is the most common vegetable that Costa Ricans eat?” Of course it is Chayote. A small pear shaped green vegetable that grows on a vine and is finicky to grow. Every Costa Rica household eats Chayote at least three times week. It is very inexpensive to purchase in the weekend farmers market, and is available year round. It is served with rice and a meat, usually chopped finely and then sautéed in onion, garlic, and sweet red pepper. What does it taste like? Well- a little like potato. Actually it takes on the flavor of the spices used in cooking it.
Chayote is native to Mexico but was taken to Europe by the conquerors of the new world. Today it is also very popular in Central and South America. It is VERY popular in Costa Rica.
Do not over cook. It should be crispy in consistency.
Chayote is high in Vitamin C. and antioxidants which makes it a good food for the cardiovascular system and improves one’s immune system.
Here is a popular Costa Rican recipe
2 Med.size chayotes, peeled and cut in small pieces
1 Tbspoon onion, chopped
1 large size clove garlic finely chopped
1 Tbspoon red bell pepper chopped
1 teaspoon celery “leafs or stalk” chopped
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup water or chicken broth, more or less
1 teaspoon, more or less, chicken consomme with achiote
1 teaspoon Lizano Sauce (optional, if available)
1 teaspoon cilantro “leafs and stalk” chopped finely (optional)
Ground black pepper to taste and dash sea salt, if needed.
In a deep sauce pan, at medium heat, place the vegetable oil, add onion, garlic, red bell pepper and celery, sautee and add the chopped chayotes, mix and add the water or chicken broth. Cover and let simmer until done to desired tenderness, (could eat it crunchy or soft, this depends on taste), While is cooking mix it and add more water if needed. Also the amount of water depends if you want the picadillo to be juicy or kind of dry. Better if you leave some juice so you can eat it over cooked rice. Condiment with the chicken consomme with achiote, (lizano sauce and the cilantro, this is optional). Also ground black pepper and sea salt to taste.
Note: You could use chicken buillion or chicken consommé. And better, if you can find the chicken consomme mix with achiote coloring. Also, you could add some chicken or ground beef, this you will add it when you sautee the spices.
Serve with cooked rice.
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