Thursday, March 20, 2008

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.


glamah16 said...

Another Octopus recipe! Yum.That Chayote looks like a butt BTW. Ive never tried it, but sure I would like it.

Peter M said...

Okay so you know I dig octopus but how did you cook it?

You're the 2nd person this week to use chayote...catch the buzz!

Heather said...

Courtney - You'd like it because or in spite of the fact that it looks like a butt? XD hahaha!

Peter the Greek - I opened two tins of Spanish octopus and drained them. It was incredibly tender! I would probably simmer them for an hour with some herbs if I had used frozen, or just made ceviche with the lemon juice if they were fresh.

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

That is to cool. I do the same thing at the farmer's market. Every week I try and grab something that I have never used before! Also I just left a comment on Peter M's blog about getting over my fear of cooking octopus and squid! I guess the tinned ones don't need cooking at all!

Peter M said...

Thanks for your prompt reply, ma'am.

Also, what's with the terra cotta army uncannyness?

Emiline said...

I was reading the title of this post, and I was thinking, where does she come up with this stuff, and how does her mind work?
You explained it to me well.

I actually tried chayote a few years ago, but I didn't think it was that great. But that was years ago, so I probably would like it now. I was thinking it was used in Mexican cooking, so that's interesting that it's used in the Caribbean area.
This sounds great. I need to make the meyer lemon vinaigrette.

Toni said...

That's so funny! When I go to Vietnamese supermarkets, I buy all kinds of weird veggies. I used to ask them, "What do you do with this?" But the answer was always the same. "You put it in rice. You put it in soup." It finally dawned on me that rice and soup were the mainstays of the average Vietnamese diet. Duh!

I stumbled on chayote pretty much the same way. Don't remember what I did with it, but this dish is over-the-top with octopus! Love it!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I'm one of those weird, non-octopus people. I think it's the only thing that lives in the ocean that I don't like.

Love chayote, though, and especially like the way they look.

Peter G said...

Like Emiline, I'm amazed by your combination of ingredients. Quite a risk taker (and I suppose thats what its all about sometimes). Another fascinating and interesting recipe Heather.

michelle @ TNS said...

i just had orzo for lunch today! we are total BFFs.

cucurbit always sounds like it should be a derogatory word to me. you fucking cucurbit.

Catherine Wilkinson said...

WTF?? Chayote! Octopus! Garbanzos! Never in a million years would I think of this combo. I'd still be in the store, fondling the chayote, wondering if Del Taco was still open.
You have a mind right out of a Tom Robbins novel, Heather. I love it.

Bellini Valli said...

Nice twist Heather, love the meyer lemon vinaigrette as well:D

Cynthia said...

Hey, no need to be embarrassed, I only found out about kholrabi 2 weeks ago.

Ben said...

I used to hate chayotes when I was a kid. I don't mind them now. I used one for my mole de olla and I might make a chayote soufflé here in a while.
I must admit that it looks really good with octopus.

Pixie said...

Never heard of a chayote before-will have to search for it. I haven't had orzo in years and you convinced me I need to buy some. Lovely recipe.

Heather said...

Judy - The tinned octopus is not only work-free, it's delicious!

Peter - No problem.

Emiline - If you haven't already, try to the chayote raw - it's really nice. I already have other ideas.

Toni - That is the VERY reason I have stopped asking! :P

Jen - I think this would be really good with olive oil-packed tuna, too.

Petah - Sometimes I think I try too hard to be creative, but sometimes it works. :)

Michelle - Yay! Orzo buddies! "Cucurbit" sounds like a Muppets character to me.

Catherine - It doesn't taste weird together, I promise! Re: Robbins, you're way too kind.

Valli - Thanks! The Meyer lemons were a bit of an afterthought because they looked nice in the store.

Cynthia - Haha! New veg keeps things interesting, dunnit?

Ben - If had grown up eating chayotes they would've been overcooked, I'm sure. I didn't realize they were in your mole de olla!

Pix - You might find it at an Indian grocery. It's a fun vegetable!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

That looks absolutely fresh and delcious! A nice clean taste! Yummy!
Have a great weekend, Heather!

peter said...

Nice new header. Only thing missing is a coat of arms.

Heather said...

Jenn - You too, thanks!

Jube - I made the header myself. I even scanned handmade paper! I am going to tweak it bit, though.

MrOrph said...

That dish looks great! I've never heard of chayote, but I want a forkfull of this!

Anonymous said...

I must admit i'm a chayote virgin.
Looks inviting - might have to do with the shape of it. Reminds me sumethin' though. Can't quite put the finger on it.


We Are Never Full said...

I think that's in the dictionary - "chayote = little fuckers". Brought a tear to my eye.

And heather, right on. I learned that if octopus is frozen, yes you boil for an hour. It's actually supposed to be more tender if it's been frozen.

One of my fave cooking pics is when I cooked some octo-pussy:

Opening a can is probably cheaper and quicker. This still is a really interesting dish w/ interesting flavors!


Núria said...

The destiny of the octopus was very imaginative, Heather! I would have never came up with such mixture of ingredients.
Are these ikea plates? This week I plan to go there and SPEND some money he, he!

Heather said...

Nuria -yes, you guessed right! I bought these just for my blog. ;) They had so many nice colors I got one of each (and matching plates).