CHAYOTE and POTATO SALAD with CAPERS and PEAS
by Terry Hope Romero
Pear-shaped, bright green, and puckered on one end like your granny's face after she's removed her dentures, chayotes are a fixture in Latin American tropical and Caribbean cuisine. And so are potato salads, so here's a happy meeting of the two! This recipe makes a ton of potato salad to serve with grilled foods or feed your next picnic.
This tropical squash is popular in soups and stews and also tossed into salad. Chayote squash has mild flavor and a subtle grassy aroma, with a crunchy texture. Boil this squash only long enough to remove any bitter undertones and its slightly sticky texture, but not too much, to retain its crispness.
Tip: Chayotes are also known as mirlitons (its Creole name, I do believe) or christophenes or cho-cho in the Caribbean. Next to plantains and yuca, they're a common item wherever Latin produce is sold.
Serves 5 to 6
Time: About 45 minutes
• 2 chayote squash
• 1½ pounds white potatoes, scrubbed
• 2 carrots (about 1/4 pound), peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
• 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
• 3 green onions, minced finely
• 1/4 cup capers, drained
• 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Wash each chayote and cut into quarters, and remove and discard the soft white seed in- side (it's edible but not that tasty). Dice the chayote into 1/2-inch cubes. Peel the potatoes and dice into 1/2-inch cubes; place in a large bowl filled with enough cold water to cover, to keep them from turning brown.
2. Add the diced chayote and carrots to the boiling water and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until the chayote is slightly translucent on the edges and slightly tender but still firm to the bite. (Do not overcook chayote or it will become mushy.) Drain in a colander set over the sink and rinse with plenty of cold water to stop the vegetables from cooking. Drain the potatoes, place in the pot, and add enough cold water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender, 14 to 18 minutes. Stir the peas into the boiling potato water within the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking. Drain and rinse the potatoes and peas with cold water.
3. Place the drained vegetables in a very large mixing bowl. Sprinkle with the parsley, cilantro, green onions, and capers. In a measuring cup, use a wire whisk or fork to mix together the vinegar, olive oil, oregano, thyme, mustard, and salt until smooth. Pour over the vegetables, season with a few twists of freshly ground pepper, and use tongs to thoroughly mix the salad, making sure to completely coat the vegetables with dressing.
4. This salad is best served immediately slightly warm or at room temperature and is tastiest when eaten within a day of preparing.