Jane’s Favorite Vegetable

by Guest blogger: Jane Rabinowicz
of SeedChange

Listen to her podcast HERE

It’s green, grows on trellises, and it’s my favourite vegetable. On a recent trip to Timor-Leste, I was ecstatic to find my favourite veggie growing on trellises around the home of local Batara village leader Tomas Pinto. Even better, I was treated to a lunch that featured the delicious vegetable.

It’s not just a gourd

Chayote is part of the gourd family, the same family that contains squashes, cucumbers and melons. Like its relatives, chayote is a climbing vine that can be supported by trellises to keep it off the ground, saving space and allowing other plants to grow in the shade beneath it. It has a delicate flavour, soft texture and is usually prepared much like zucchini.

Chayote originated in Mexico and spread during the 15th and 16th centuries. It has become integrated into the cuisines of many countries around the world, including those of the rural communities SeedChange works with in Timor-Leste.

Farming the Tomas does

The farmers we work within Timor-Leste, like Tomas Pinto, use a variety of ecological techniques to grow not only chayote, but an astonishing diversity of different crops in small areas. Techniques such as agroforestry, hillside terracing, and local compost fertilizer production, serve to nurture soil health, reduce the need for external pesticides and inorganic fertilizers, and increase climate resilience.  The result is diverse, fertile farms, teeming with life from the upper canopies of the fruit, nut and palm trees to the decomposing leaf litter on the forest floor. 

And, cooking it…

I’m reminded of Tomas Pinto’s farm whenever I find chayote for sale at my local market in Montreal. My favourite way to prepare it is simply by grilling or sauteing, not unlike the way it was prepared for me in Timor-Leste. No version is ever exactly the same, but this recipe probably comes closest to demonstrating how easy, simple, and delicious a dish made with chayote can be.


About this author:

528: Jane Rabinowicz on Global Seed Work. Jane was appointed as an Executive Director of SeedChange in 2016, after joining the organization in 2011.  Jane has dedicated her career to community-led change. She is co-founder of the Silver Dollar Foundation and serves on the Board of Directors of Tides Canada.  Jane was named one of the 53 most influential people in Canada’s food system by The Globe and Mail, and one of Canada’s leading women changing the way we eat by Châtelaine Magazine.

How to reach Jane:

Website: www.weseedchange.org

Facebook:  SeedChange

Twitter: @weseedchangeorg

Instagram: Jane_Rabinowic weseedchangeorg

Email: jrabinowicz@weseedchange.org


Some of the links in our podcast show notes and blog posts are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase, we will earn a nominal commission at no cost to you. We offer links to items recommended by our podcast guests and guest writers as a service to our audience and these items are not selected because of the commission we receive from your purchases. We know the decision is yours, and whether you decide to buy something is completely up to you. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

Post comment