Ever heard of a chayote squash? Don’t worry if you haven’t. They are a pear-shaped and colored, medium size squash that’s actually abundant in your local grocer–especially if you live in SoCal as they originate from Mexico. We experimented with the chayote last year when we made a delish and pretty soup. This time we wanted to make a Southern Louisiana dish called “mirliton” that’s hollowed out and usually stuffed with seafood. We had never tried them, mind you, and were eager to do so. Further research revealed that a mirliton is nothing more than the aforementioned chayote squash. Score!
The squash itself has a mild, slightly sweet flavor, which would do well in many different salads or veggie dishes. Of course if you want to stuff them, you can do it with just about anything you want. We opted for crab meat and large chunks of shrimp. There was one snafu though. We didn’t have breadcrumbs, which adds a great texture to the stuffing and helps hold it all together (the food processor decided to die the moment before we were going to make some from a wonderful loaf of sourdough…boo). We did have pecans! And the substitution proved delightful, adding a sweet bite.
The end result was a savory and juicy dish. No sauces or additional toppings need for these guys. They make a great side dish or stand alone wonderfully as the main course of any meal. Next time, we’ll add some cheese to the stuffing. A bit of pecorino romano would have knocked it out of the park. Not a fan of seafood? Try stuffing these squash with your favorite mix used of mushroom, zucchini, eggplant, or other squash. Try ‘em out, and then report back to us.
Crab and Shrimp Pecan Stuffed Mirlitons – Serves 3-4 (adapted from Deep South)
2 medium sized mirlitons, or chayote squash
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk green onion, including white bits, sliced
1 stalk of celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1/3 pound cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup raw pecans, chopped
6 ounces of crab meat
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1. Cut each of the squash in half lengthwise. Steam flesh side down for about 12-15 minutes or until center begins to soften. Set aside to let cool. Once cool enough to handle, use a spoon to scoop out most of the pulp, leaving about 1/4″ of the shell. Save the pulp and discard or save the seeds.
2. In a large skillet, melt about 2 tablespoons of the butter and saute the onion, garlic, bell pepper, green onion and celery until tender, about 4-6 minutes.
3. Stir in diced tomatoes, pulp from squash, herbs and Creole seasoning. Simmer for another 5-6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Blend in the shrimp and crab meat. Remove from heat and mix in nuts.
4. Mound mixture generously into the squash shells and arrange in lightly greased baking dish. Melt remaining butter and drizzle over each squash. Bake uncovered in preheated 350 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh parsley.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.