Today I’m delighted to contribute a dish to the Virtual Vegan Potluck!
Thanks to Annie of An Unrefined Vegan and Somer of Vedged Out for organizing this vegan feast, featuring 105 different bloggers in 14 countries!
If you’d like to join the party, you can follow the links backward (through the breads, drinks, and appetizers), or onward (through the rest of the salads, as well as the side dishes, soups, main dishes, and desserts). Look for the forward and backward links at the bottom of this post, or– if you like things in their proper order– start at the beginning.
(If this is your first time visiting Spontaneous Tomato, welcome! I love to eat– and cook– and travel. I try to share recipes from all over the world, and for many different diets. Check out the vegan recipes section of my recipe index, and if you like what you see, you can subscribe via RSS or follow Spontaneous Tomato on Facebook or Pinterest.)
Now, on to the recipe! My girlfriend works in an ophthalmologist’s office, and occasionally their patients bring in edible gifts to share with the staff. (This gets especially out of hand around the holidays, when patients bring in everything from candy bars and boxes of chocolate to tins of popcorn and homemade gingersnap cookies.) Sometimes, though, the gifts are full of local goodness, like homemade apricot jam, homegrown avocados, or most recently: chayote squash.
Make that six chayote squash. On my kitchen counter. At once.
I had never cooked with chayote squash before– and technically, I still haven’t, since I just keep using them to make this raw salad!– but I knew they could be eaten raw, if first marinated in lemon or lime juice. I thought that would be the perfect way to use the first chayote of the bunch: to toss it raw into a salad, and to get to know what it tastes like before possibly cooking up some of the other ones…
Before you dive in with your vegetable peeler, though, there’s something you should know: the chayote squash will be slimy when you peel it. And I mean slimy! You might even want to wear gloves– especially if the squash’s prickles are sharp. Don’t worry about the slimy texture, though; we’re going to soak it in a little fresh lime juice and that will magically crisp it up and bring out a little flavor along the way.
Speaking of flavor, what does a chayote taste like? Not much. it’s like a firmer, less watery, and more crispy cucumber. I think the texture and color are the most inviting, while the flavor is very neutral, but that’s why we dress it up with lime juice and chile and nestle it with sliced sweet mango and creamy avocado.
When I first stared down those six chayotes on my countertop, I considered simmering them in a soup, or perhaps roasting them, but I worried their flavor would be overwhelmed by the broth or the marinade… Little did I know, there was no need to worry, since it turns out: 1) chayotes have no real flavor to speak of anyway, and 2) this salad was so good that I’ve made it three times now!
It makes for a lovely chayote squash showcase: a crunchy, bright mix with the perfect balance of sweet and sour. (It’s not even really that spicy, believe it or not.)
It’s a refreshing and addictive salad that I’ve fallen head over heels for, so I’m happy to share it with you as you eat your way through the 104 other dishes of the Virtual Vegan Potluck. Enjoy!
p.s. If you have a favorite recipe that uses chayote, I’d love to hear about it!
Print this recipe.
Chayote Mango Salad with Avocado
(Serves 4 as a side salad; I would recommend doubling this for non-virtual potlucks)
~ 1-2 small chayotes
~ ½-1 fresh mango (a barely-ripened mango will work better here than a juicy one)
~ 1 ripe avocado
~ juice of ½-1 lime (to taste)
~ pinch of salt (to taste)
~ several generous dashes of chili powder (to taste)
~ chopped fresh cilantro to garnish (can’t believe I haven’t actually tried this yet)
How to make it:
1. Peel, then halve the chayote. Remove the white seed-like center, then slice it into long thin matchsticks, or wide thin strips that you then cut in half.
2. Transfer the chayote strips to a medium bowl and add the lime juice and salt. Stir to coat it well, and let the chayote soak in the lime juice for 5-10 minutes, or while you chop the mango and the avocado.
3. Peel and slice the mango. Add it to the chayote along with the chili powder, and stir to coat well. (Trust me when I say “several generous dashes” of chili powder! If you still don’t trust me, then I suppose you could add it gradually, to taste.)
4. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary, then dice the avocado into large cubes or wedges and gently toss them into the mix. Serve right away as a salad or side dish. (You can also make this a few hours ahead and keep it in the fridge, but I’d recommend waiting to add the avocado until right before you serve it.)
Print this recipe!
Your Virtual Vegan Potluck navigation buttons:
(A vegan feast awaits!)
Related recipe posts:
> Mango Coconut Popsicles with a hint of Lime (Vegan)
> Mango Lassi Muffins
> Lentil Green Bean Salad with Avocado and Vinaigrette Dressing (Vegan)