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From: Celebrating the Seasons
by John Littlewood

Putanesca is typically a preparation for pasta, with a suggestive name that refers to harried "working girls."  I've replaced the pasta with chayote, a wonderful, juicy vegetable in the gourd family. In Louisiana, where it is called mirliton, it is often stuffed and baked.

Serves 8


• 4 chayotes
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/3 cup diced yellow onion
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons capers
• 1 tablespoon caper juice
• 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
• 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes in their juice
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


1.  Peel and cut chayotes in 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes. Do not remove the pit, as it is edible and has a pleasantly nutty flavor. Cook cubes in a generous amount of boiling salted water until al dente (4 to 6 minutes). Drain, spread on a baking pan, and cool.

2. In a medium saute pan over medium-high heat, heat olive oil until it SHIMMERS, Add onion and garlic, and saute until translucent. Add wine and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add capers, caper juice, chile flakes, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes.

3. Add chayote and heat through. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit 10 minutes or until ready to serve.

• Wash your hands well after peeling and cutting chayote, as it will coat your skin with a gluey substance. If working with large amounts, wear gloves.

• Chayote absorbs flavors beautifully, so this dish just gets better as it sits. Make it early on and let the flavors marinate. Serve warm, or at room temperature in hot weather.

• When BLANCHING vegetables its common to SHOCK them in ice water to stop the cooking; but chayote is much more forgiving of a little overcooking than, say, broccoli.
     Also, letting the chayote (or any vegetable) cool without shocking it retains more flavor.


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