Orzo with octopus, garbanzos and chayote, with meyer lemon vinaigrette

I bought some chayote. I had always been kinda curious about these weird little fuckers, and finally bit the bullet and just brought some home. I sometimes just buy strange produce and then figure out how to use it after I get it home.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I had to wiki chayotes to find out what the fuck they even are. Turns out they’re a cucurbit (like squash, cukes and melons), so that set my thinking in one direction. Chayote, as luck would have it, has the crisp texture and mild, clean flavor of kohlrabi (which tastes like a mild radish).

So it turns out that they’re traditionally used in the Americas, Asia and in Oceania. An unencumbered Cuban recipe called for them in a 10-minute salad with octopus and garbanzos, green bell pepper and onion, and a simple oil and vinegar dressing. But I felt that the tinned octopus I picked up begged for Spanish flavors, so I twisted it a bit.

Orzo with octopus, garbanzos and chayote and meyer lemon vinaigrette
Serves 2 or 3 for a light supper or a salad

Combine in a salad bowl: 2 tins octopus (drained); a coupla handfuls of cooked garbanzos; a julienne of chayote (the seed can be avoided or ignored as you see fit) and 1/2 red bell pepper; minced garlic, shallot and 5 anchovy fillets; 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika, pinch of chili flake, 1 tbsp chopped oregano and 3 or 4 tbsp chopped Italian parsely, a coupla fat pinches of good salt and lots of black pepper; then the juice and zest of a meyer lemon, a splash of Sherry vinegar (I actually used a Korean lemon vinegar that rocks) and some extra virgin olive oil. Toss to combine. Add more seasoning and/or acid as necessary.

Meanwhile cook some orzo to al dente. Strain and toss with the salad. Let this sit for at least 10 minutes to let the flavors meld. Half an hour would be better.

Enjoy as is or as a side. We thought this would be good with a piece of fish or maybe on some lettuces, as an afterthought. Gah, I can’t remember which it was, but we had some crisp Italian white. Kinda fruity. I can’t even remember what grape it is, let alone the label. Honestly, I’ve grown to trust the wine guy at New Seasons so much that any more, I just tell him what I’m cooking and buy what he hands me.