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GardenSMART :: Mirlitons Are a Cold Weather Vegetable Find You’ll Love

Mirlitons Are a Cold Weather Vegetable Find You’ll Love

By Tommy C. Simmons, An enthusiastic cook
Photograph by Tommy C. Simmons

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A serving of mirliton casserole is all you need for a delicious supper on a winter night.

First time I saw mirlitons growing was on fence in Donaldsonville, LA. My family didn’t cook mirlitons but I enjoyed eating stuffed mirlitons and mirliton casseroles at friends’ homes. The casseroles were similar to eggplant casseroles -- containing sautéed onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic combined with chunks of boiled mirliton, breadcrumbs and shrimp or ground meat.

With the growth of farmers’ markets, cooks now have access to a greater variety of vegetables – including the gourd-like mirliton. Mirlitons are also called chayote, vegetable pears and christophene.

My husband, David, found mirlitons at our local Publix store last week. These were labeled chayote and packaged in individual produce bags to keep the vegetable from bruising. They should be refrigerated until ready to cook.

David researched our collection of Louisiana cookbooks for mirliton recipes and then put together his own. He really is the best cook in our family. This is a great recipe for a delicious casserole you’ll want to make several times this winter, while mirlitons are fresh and available.

Home kitchen-tested recipe
Mirliton Casserole

Serves 4 to 6. Recipe is by David Simmons.

Ingredients

2 mirlitons (also known as chayote)

Salted water

1 lb. wild-caught shrimp

2 tbls.olive oil

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped bell pepper

1 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

¼ tsp. red pepper

3 to 4 shakes Tabasco

1 cup chicken broth, or slightly more, if needed

1 to 1 ½ cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs, reserve some for topping

  1. Boil mirlitons for 30 to 40 minutes in salted water. Slice cooked mirlitons lengthwise, scoop out seed and stem and remove peeling. Chop pulp into 1-inch cubes and set aside.

  2. Peel and chop each shrimp into three or four pieces.

  3. Heat olive oil in large skillet and sauté celery, bell pepper, onion and garlic in olive oil until vegetables are clear and tender. Add seasoning.

  4. Stir in chopped shrimp and sauté for 5 minutes. Add chopped mirliton to shrimp and vegetables and cook down for 10 to 12 minutes or until most of the liquid is gone.

  5. Add seasoned bread crumbs, only enough to absorb most of the liquid. Stir in chicken broth.

  6. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Lightly cover top of casserole with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until bubbly on edge and golden brown on top.

Testing note: Leftovers can be frozen.  


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