Pipinola, also known as Chayote or Mirliton, is a type of summer squash which grows abundantly on Maui. It is a vining plant, with pounds and pounds of squash. Some people grow them across their roof because the plant is so prolific, and the squashes weigh down the vines easily.
When eaten raw the pipinola is reminiscent of cucumbers in color, texture, and moisture. There is only one thin side inside of the squash, which makes pipinola a nice substitute to replace cucumber when the seeds and excess moisture are not desired.
A pipinola seed cannot be planted directly into the ground. It must sprout inside of the squash, and this is done in a cool, dark place in your home, or even on the counter in the kitchen. The whole squash, with its sprout, is then place into the ground, sprout up, and it grows that super prolific vine previously mentioned. It has been stated that one vine can produce 50-100 squashes a season. They do not like cold soil, so plant them after the winter is over.
I attempted to create a way of using these squashes that I hadn’t seen much here on Maui. In Louisiana you’ll find stuffed mirliton, and this was my inspiration. While the stuffing was delicious, the pipinola weren’t really large enough to be stuffed, and think I will have to bake them before I attempt to stuff them next time. I’m not sure why I didn’t think about it like any other squash that is to be stuffed. They are baked first, then scraped out. I tried scraping it while it was still raw. THis was not an easy, or very safe, task.
Yet, dinner was delicious all the same.
2 Pipinola Squash, halved
4 cups cooked brown rice
1 large Portuguese Sausages, diced
1/2 large onion, or 1 medium, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
Fresh Goat Cheese, crumbled
Salt and Pepper
Cook the brown rice. Set it aside.
Shave off a bit of the skin side of the squashes so they’ll sit flat.
Bake the pipinolas in a casserole dish, skin side down, at 350F until tender.
While the squash is baking, saute the onion, celery, bell pepper, and sausage for 3-4 minutes.
Add in the garlic and saute for another minute.
Once the squashes are tender, remove them from the oven and carefully scrape out the flesh. Add the flesh to the pan with the rest of the ingredients.
Toss the contents of the pan with the brown rice.
Spoon this mixture into the pipinola shells and top with goat cheese. Put the extra stuffing into a pie plate or other small casserole dish and top with the cheese.
Bake at 375F for 10 minutes, checking occasionally to watch for the cheese to melt slightly.
Turn on the broiler and lightly brown the top of the cheese.
Serve and enjoy!