Thursday, March 24, 2011

RECIPE - Spicy Chayote Salad (Salada de Chuchu Picante)

This very-easy and quick-to-prepare salad of baby chayotes (mini chuchus in Portuguese), from the Brazilian website Receitas e Dicas,  can be served warm or at room temperature. It's best not to chill it, as refrigeration diminishes the already-subtle flavor of chayote and will result in a very bland salad experience. The spiciness of the salad can be adjusted up or down by regulating the quantity of garlic and red pepper flakes. In Brazil this salad would be quite spicy but the heat of the peppers shouldn't overwhelm the chayote itself.
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RECIPE - Spicy Chayote Salad (Salada de Chuchu Picante)
Serves 4

3 medium chayotes
1 medium yellow onion, not-too-finely chopped
1 clove garlic, very thinly sliced
1 Tbsp red or white wine vinegar
hot red pepper flakes, to taste
salt and pepper to taste
extra-virgin olive oil
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Peel the chayotes using a vegetable peeler, cut them in half in the wider direction, then using a spoon scoop out the large seed. Cut the chayote flesh into 1/4 in (1 cm) slices.

Bring a large quantity of water to a boil in a large pan. Add the chayote slices and cook until just softened. Do not overcook. Drain into a colander, then refresh in running cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain again, reserve.

In a small sauté pan heat some olive oil, then add the garlic slices. Cook until brown and crispy, adding the desired quantity of red pepper flakes about halfway through the cooking process. Reserve.

In a large frying pan, heat additional oil then add the chopped onion. Cook until transparent but not browned. Add the vinegar and cook briefly. Add the chayote slices, and with a wooden spoon mix them with the dressing carefully, making sure not to break up the slices. Remove from heat, then add the garlic/red pepper/oil mixture from the sauté pan. Stir again, carefully.

Let rest a few minutes if you wish to serve the salad warm, or reserve until cooled to room temperature and then serve.

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