Probably the most widely used vegetable in the Caribbean, with each country having its favourite recipe for it, christophene, also called Cho-Cho or Choyote is a rough-skinned, pear-shaped vegetable. Upon slicing open you'll find a very pale green, and watery interior, with a soft white seed. Its almost squash like in appearance, and melon like in the interior. Christophenes grow on vines on shady and cool mountain slopes. Easy to grow and harvest they are quite economical, plentiful and easy to prepare.
Not having much of its own flavour, Christophenes can be used extensively in cooking. Chinese use it a lot in their vegetable stir fries, its julienned and added to mixed vegetable salads and its paired a lot with cheese or enveloped in rich cheese sauces for a satisfying side dish. Here are some flavourful recipes for you to try.
3 lbs christophene
1 lb tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
• Slice tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices.
• Peel christophenes, slice in half lengthways then slice into 1/4 inch thick slices.
• Steam christophenes with a little salt for five minutes.
• Drain christophene.
• Combine crumb with parsley, oregano, pepper, salt, parmesan cheese, and garlic.
• Add one tablespoon oil and combine.
• Lightly grease a casserole dish, place one row of christophene, then a row of tomatoes, continue until all the vegetables are used up and are in an overlapping fashion.
• Sprinkle with parmesan mixture.
• Drizzle on olive oil.
• Bake for 30 minutes until crust is browned.
Serves 6 to 8
2 medium christophenes, cut into halves, with the hearts removed
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 Congo pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup finely-grated cheese
• Place christophene into a large pot of salted boiling water and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
• Carefully scoop out the flesh leaving the shell intact.
• Mash christophenes to small chunks.
• Heat oil in a sauté pan, sauté onion, garlic, pepper and chives; add christophene and sauté. Add nutmeg, stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
• Combine breadcrumbs, parsley and cheese.
•Fill each christophene shell with the christophene mixture.
• Sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture; place in a shallow baking dish and bake at 350F for 20 minutes.
ORIENTAL MIXED VEGETABLE SALAD
peeled and cut into thin strips
1 carrot peeled and cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 cup green beans, cut into one inch pieces
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs chopped parsley,
1 tbs chopped chadon beni or cilantro
1 tbs chopped chives
• Steam vegetables until tender crisp, about four minutes for each type, remove and cool.
• Heat oil in a small sauce pan, add butter and stir, add garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil.
• Cook for a few minutes, just until incorporated.
• Remove from heat and stir in herbs. Pour dressing onto vegetables and toss. Serves 4.