Louisiana Stuffed Mirletons (Chayote)
Recipe by: Susan Voisin
Mirletons (also spelled “mirlitons”) are a favorite vegetable in south Louisiana. The mirleton is also known as the Chayote, Alligator Pear, Mango Squash and Vegetable Pear. Traditional recipes for stuffed mirletons usually call for seafood or meat. This one uses pinto beans to give it a hearty flavor, while the Cajun seasonings give it spice.
This recipe may also be used to stuff peppers or other vegetables. Vary the taste by using chickpeas instead of pinto beans.
1 small onion chopped
1 stalk celery chopped fine
1/2 bell pepper chopped fine
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. thyme
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
2 tbsp. ground flax seeds (optional)
bread crumbs (optional)
Slice mirlitons in half and put in a steamer. Steam until they are just tender. Don’t over do them because if the skin gets too tender they will fall apart when working with them. When they are done take them out of the steamer and let them cool until you can handle them. Remove the seed and scrape the pulp into a dish. Get as much of the pulp out as you can without puncturing the skin. Mash the pulp with a fork and set aside.
Sauté onions, celery and bell pepper in a large, non-stick skillet for about 7 minutes until soft; add garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the mirleton pulp and the seasonings to the sautéed vegetables and cook for about a minute. Add the pinto beans and mash them with a potato masher as they cook. (You want about 3/4 of the beans coarsely mashed.) Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes. Taste to see what seasonings are needed. Let this rest for about 10 minutes.
Turn the oven on 375ºF. Add the ground flax seeds to the pinto bean mixture and mix well.
Place the mirliton shells in a baking pan or casserole. Salt and pepper the inside of the mirleton shells, if desired. Spoon the stuffing into each shell; don’t be afraid to overstuff them. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the mirlitons, if desired.
Bake them on the top rack in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the tops begin to brown.
Makes 3-4 main dish servings