Mirlitons (pronounced MEL-lee-tawns or MER-lee-tawns) are a type of squash found growing wild and in backyards throughout southern Louisiana. They're pale green, with a delicate flavor and a large, dence central seed. In other parts of the country, they're called chayote squash. I've used them as the primary ingredient in this variation on the classic ratatouille that I find very tasty.
If you don't want to grill the mirlitons and eggplant, you can instead brush them with olive oil and bake them on a sheet pan until half-cooked.
Cut the mirlitons in half and scoop out the seed, then slice into 1/2" slices. Peel the eggplant and slice into 1/2" slices. Slice the onions crossways 1/4" thick, then cut each slice in half to end up with semicircular pieces of onion. Core and seed the peppers and chop into 1/2" dice. Chop the garlic. Prepare the tomato concassé.
- 2 pounds mirlitons (chayote squash)
- 1 pound eggplant
- 1 pound onions
- 4 red bell peppers
- 2 pounds tomatoes (peeled, seeded and chopped)
- 10 cloves garlic
- 6 ounces olive oil
- 2/3 cup chopped parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Brush the mirliton and eggplant slices with olive oil and grill (or bake) until about half-cooked. (Some nice cross-hatch grill marks would be particularly nice.) Sauté the onions and peppers in the remaining olive oil until half-cooked. Add the garlic, and sauté for one additional minute.
Cut the grilled mirliton and eggplant slices into large dice. Combine all the vegetables and seasonings into a brazier or heavy saucepan. Cover and cook in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the flavors are well-blended. If the vegetables are too juicy, cook uncovered on the stove top for a few minutes to reduce, stirring frequently to avoid scorching.
Adjust seasonings. Serve hot or cold.
YIELD: About 20 four-ounce portions.
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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)