Christophine (Trinidad) was the name displayed above a basket of prickly green, pear shaped specimens but this is not the sole name that these delicately flavoured squash: chayote, mirliton (Louisianna), custard marrow and vegetable pear are commonly used for this single seeded fruit of the Gourd family. The chayote is native to Mexico, cultivated by the Aztecs before becoming popular in Spain, North America and Asia and is totally edible, leaves, tubers, flesh and even its large seed. With crisp textured flesh and a taste that’s reminiscent of cucumber this nifty little number can be prepared in a similar fashion to courgette: raw grated in salads, stuffed, add to casseroles, boil, bake, grill, sauté or puree.

Think cucumber, this flavour packed salad is prepared with parboiled chayote and easily serves 4 as part of a selection alongside roast meat, fish and even mac ‘n cheese.

Chayote Salad with Almond, Fennel and Ginger

1 chayote
1 spring onion, finely sliced
Small handful flaked almonds, toasted
1 tbsp. fennel seeds toasted
1 tsp. grated ginger
Zest of 1 lemon, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt & freshly milled black pepper

Begin by peeling the chayote: rest the fruit securely in one hand and remove the peel with a serrated vegetable peeler; half and slice to a thickness of about 3 or 4 mm. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the chayote for 3 minutes to al dente; tip into a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain then pat dry with absorbent paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine the chayote with the spring onion, almond, fennel seeds and ginger – fingers are easiest for this. Whisk together the lemon zest, juice, olive oil and seasoning. Drizzle over the salad making sure that the dressing is evenly distributed.