Everyone loves casserole. It is hearty, comforting, and easy to make. The flavor of the Chayote/ChoCho Casserole with the vegan cheese sauce is a perfect match for each other and result in the most comforting casserole ever!
The world is full of wonderous vegetables and fruits. And when you open yourself up to these healthy options, you will find so many exotic and amazing ingredients that you can include in your daily life. One such exotic fruit/vegetable is chayote. You can read more about Black Chayote here.
Also known as mirliton, it is a type of squash that is not only flavorsome but is also quite unique. Native to the lands of Mexico, this ingredient is easily available at the grocery store. Although it is a versatile ingredient, the best way to use it is in a casserole!
Interested much? Well, you should be because this recipe is unlike any other, we have tried so far! So, without any further wait, read ahead to find out everything about this casserole recipe.
What Is Chayote?
You might have come across this pear-shaped vegetable in the vegetable aisle of the grocery store. But let me tell you, this typically light green vegetable-like ingredient is actually a fruit. Today, I will be sharing with you the dark green variety called Black Chayote but you can use the popular light green one for this recipe. It falls into the category of tomato in this case. However, some people consider it to be a summer squash.
It is known by different names across different territories. Some call it mirliton, choko, mango squash, xuxu, machuchu, iskut, christophine, sayote while others call it chou chou.
This fruit/vegetable is grown on the vine in summer seasons or warmer climates all across the globe. It has a mild flavor and a crunchy texture. I actually grow it here in Florida and enjoy eating it raw. Check out Sauteed Chocho and Jamaican Chayote Chocho Curry recipes.
Health benefits of chayote
Chayote has the following amazing benefits that make it stand out from the rest of the fruits and vegetables: Read More:
- Chayote squash is super rich in vitamins like vitamin B6, B9, vitamin C, and K.
- It contains several antioxidant compounds that promote overall body health and increase immunity. Thus, it protects the body against diseases.
- Chayote squash helps in maintaining your heart health. Thus, it improves your blood pressure and blood sugar level. Furthermore, it also limits the risks of high cholesterol development.
- It is high in fiber and low in carbohydrates. As a result, it helps in regulating the level of sugar in the blood. It also improves insulin sensitivity.
- Chayote is rich in folate, which is a crucial compound in a healthy pregnancy.
- It is also said to possess anti-cancer properties.
- Because it is low in calories and high in fiber, it promotes digestive health, regulates bowel movement, and also promotes weight management.
What To Look For When Buying Chayote?
When buying chayote, make sure you select the ones that are smaller in size. That’s because small chayote is tender. Furthermore, you can also tell a lot about this chayote vegetable by touching it. Touch to see if the vegetable is firm, but it shouldn’t be too hard. Also, don’t buy a vegetable that is sticky or has patches or discoloration of any sort.
Main Components Of Chayote/ChoCho Casserole
Like any other casserole, chayote casserole has two main components as well. These are:
- Vegetable mixture: Because casserole has layers, this vegetable mixture is very crucial. It is made from chayote squash, but you can add other vegetables to it as well. As they say, the more, the merrier.
- Vegan cheese sauce: No casserole is complete without a creamy and delicious cheesy sauce. And because we are talking about a vegan dish here, the sauce is going to be vegan, dairy-free, and delicious.
You don’t need a lot of different ingredients for this delicious casserole. Here are a few things you will need:
- Chayote: You can easily find chayote squash at any grocery store. It comes in two colors, i.e., green and black. For this recipe, I have used black chayote, but you can also use green. Green chayote is more common than black, so no worries if you can’t find a black one.
- Onion: white onion is a must for every vegetable dish. It brings in flavors that everyone loves.
- Garlic: Garlic brings in a depth of flavors.
- Vegetable broth: To cook the chayote, I have used vegetable broth instead of water.
- Seasoning: a little salt and black pepper are enough to bring out the natural flavors of the dish. But you can also add more spices like paprika etc., to spice things up a little.
For the cheese sauce, you will need:
- Raw cashews: Because this is a vegan sauce, we are going to use ingredients that give us a rich, decadent, and creamy sauce. For this purpose, I have used raw cashew nuts. You can soak them for 2 hours prior to use if you are using a regular blender (no need to soak if using a high-speed blender), just rinse.
- Water: you will need water to adjust the consistency of the sauce.
- Red bell pepper: red bell pepper not only gives the sauce a beautiful color but also adds a unique flavor to it.
- Cornstarch: Corn starch will adjust the consistency of the sauce once it is cooked in the oven. It will make the sauce thick and creamy. Substitute with tapioca starch.
- Seasonings: To season the sauce, I have used onion powder, garlic powder, and salt.
How to cook Chayote/ChoCho Casserole?
Cooking chayote casserole is a piece of cake! The process is super easy, simple, and quick. Here are a few steps you have to follow:
Step 1: First, you have to heat oil in a saucepan, and once it is heated, add chopped onions, garlic and cook until they are translucent.
2: Next, add sliced chayote, sauté for a minute.
3: Season it with salt and add vegetable stock. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes until the chayote is cooked through and the stock is evaporated.
4: In the meanwhile, add rinsed cashew nuts, bell pepper, water, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and corn starch in a blender and blend at high speed until you get a smooth consistency.
5: For assembling the casserole, place a little sauce at the bottom of the casserole pan, add in the cooked chayote mixture, and pour vegan cheese sauce on top.
Step 6: Place the casserole pan in a preheated oven at 400-degree F for 40 minutes until the top gets a nice golden-brown color.
Tips and tricks for perfect chayote casserole:
Here are a few things you should keep in mind when making Chayote casserole:
- You can use either black or green chayote for the Chayote/ChoCho Casserole.
- Don’t have chayote, substitute with zucchini slices and skip sauteing them.
- For the perfect consistency of the vegan cheese sauce, it is preferred that you soak the cashew nuts for about 1 hour if using a regular blender or just boil cashews in water for 5 minutes. This way, the sauce won’t turn granulated.
- If you don’t have corn starch, you can use arrowroot or tapioca starch instead as well.
- To make the casserole rich, add a few other vegetables like carrots to it.
- The chayote/chocho seed is soft and edible so you don’t need to discard it.
How to store Chayote casserole?
Like every other casserole, you can store the leftover portion in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. However, I would recommend you store it in the freezer. If you have leftover cooked Chayote/ChoCho Casserole, portion it out, place each portion in a different sip lock plastic bag, and store it in the freezer. So, when you feel like eating it, you can reheat a portion in the oven or microwave.
Also, you can freeze casserole before baking it as well. This makes it very convenient and thus a perfect meal that you can make days ahead.
Other Vegan Casserole Dishes To Prepare
- Vegan Broccoli Rice Casserole
- Vegan Mac And Cheese
- Brussel Sprouts Casserole
- Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Baked Ziti
- Plantain Lasagna
- Scalloped Potatoes
- Black Bean Enchiladas
- Broccoli Cheese Casserole
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- Energy: 318 kcal / 1329 kJ
- Fat: 23.8 g
- Protein: 8.3 g
- Carbs: 22.7 g
- Preparation: 15 min
- Cooking: 50 min
- Ready in: 1 h 5 min
- 6 Servings
For The Chayote
- 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
- 2 medium chayote, sliced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Vegan Cheese Sauce
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a saucepan, heat oil. Add chopped onions and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes until they are soft.
- Add minced garlic and cook for a minute.
- Add sliced chayote, salt, and vegetable broth.
- Cover the chayote and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the chayote is tender.
- Meanwhile, in a blender, add rinsed cashew nuts, bell pepper, water, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and corn starch.
- Blend at high speed until it forms a smoothie-like consistency.
- Once the chayote is tender, and the water is almost evaporated, place the cooked chayote in a 9-inch baking dish.
- Layer it with vegan cheese sauce on top and place it in a preheated oven for 40 minutes at 400-degree F.
- Remove from the oven and serve