Active Time: 30 MinsTotal Time1 Hour 45 Mins
Yield: Serves 8
You may have seen them at the grocery store alongside the bins of your favorite winter squash. Unless you are from Louisiana, you probably gave these unusual looking gourds, labeled “mirlitons” or “chayotes,” a quizzical look and walked on to the more familiar offerings such as acorn, spaghetti, and butternut squash. It’s time to give this green, wrinkly, pear-shaped squash a second look. The texture and crunch of a mirliton (there is actually a festival in New Orleans dedicated to the mirliton) has been compared to those of an apple, but with a cucumber-like flavor. You can pickle them, fry them, stuff them with seafood, or slice and dice them into salads. Delicious mirlitons are available in the fall months and deserve a spot on your Thanksgiving table alongside the other family favorite side dishes. If you can’t find them at your favorite grocery store, check out any Asian, Caribbean, or Latin American market. When choosing, a mirliton should feel very firm and heavy for their size and be free of blemishes. Refrigerate mirlitons in a plastic bag for up to a month.
- 4mirlitons (chayote squash), halved lengthwise
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion (from 1 small onion)
- 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper (from 1 medium pepper)
- 3/4 cup chopped celery (from 4 medium stalks)
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (from 3 garlic cloves)
- 3scallions, chopped, white and green parts separated
- 3/4peeled, deveined raw small- to medium-size shrimp, coarsely chopped (3/4-inch pieces)
- 3/4 cup chopped cooked ham
- 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning or Cajun blackened seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2large eggs, well beaten
- 1 3/4 cups fine fresh breadcrumbs, divided
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange squash halves, cut sides down, in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Add 1/4 cup water, and cover with aluminum foil. Bake until squash is tender but still firm, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Set aside until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F.
While squash cools, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high until a piece of chopped onion sizzles when added to butter. Add chopped onion, bell pepper, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and white parts of scallions. Cook, tossing often, until mixture is softened, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to skillet, and melt over medium-high. Once butter bubbles up, add shrimp. Cook, tossing often, until bright pink and firm, about 2 minutes. Add ham, Creole seasoning, salt, and black pepper. Remove from heat, and toss to combine. Add reserved onion mixture to shrimp mixture in skillet, and toss to combine. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside.
Remove and discard seeds from cooled squash halves. Carefully scoop out flesh from each squash half using a spoon, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Set shells aside. Coarsely chop squash flesh, add to shrimp mixture in large bowl, and stir to combine. Add eggs, green parts of scallions, 1 1/2 cups of the breadcrumbs, and 2 tablespoons of the parsley, and stir to combine. (Stuffing should be moist but not wet, with ingredients evenly mixed throughout.)
Arrange squash shells snugly in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish or a rimmed baking sheet, with larger, firmer shells around the edges and any torn or broken shells wedged in place among the sturdy ones. Fill shells evenly with prepared stuffing.
Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small microwavable bowl on HIGH for 30 seconds. Stir remaining 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons parsley into butter. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over stuffed squash.
Bake at 375°F until stuffing is firm, fairly dry, and lightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer squash to a serving platter, and serve hot or warm.
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