Mexican mole sauces are simple enough to modify to low carb deliciousness, but the vegetables that accompany the protein and the mole sauce includes potatoes or higher carb vegetables. This chicken mole with chayote (a type of squash), tomatillos and asparagus doesn’t include (or need) potatoes. The yellow mole sauce adds a robust flavor to complete this delicious dish.
All About Chayote
Chayote (chai-OH-tay) is a pear-shaped, light green vegetable belonging to the gourd family. It has a crunchy texture and a mild, sweet flavor, similar to a summer squash. Some people think it tastes like a cross between a cucumber and an apple. In fact, a lot of recipes use chayote as a substitute for apples in low carb apple strudel or pies. The substitution of chayote for potatoes lends a slight crunch to the stew, which enhances the texture and overall flavor.
Although chayote is common in Latin American grocery stores, it may be difficult to find in your neighborhood grocery store. I have found it year-round at Walmart. The photo below is what fresh chayote looks like.
Is Chayote Healthy?
Chayote is rich in fiber, antioxidants, iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, copper and vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C. Chayote originates from Central America and was harvested by the Aztecs and the Mayans. Chayote is a good food to eat to help ease acid reflux. Chayote is also said to lower blood pressure.
Is Chayote Low Carb or Keto?
Although chayote isn’t necessarily as low carb as some other vegetables, it’s definitely lower carb than potatoes and other starchy vegetables. Chayote is allowed on a keto diet.
One whole chayote squash has 6 grams of carbs. However, it also has 2.2 grams of fiber, giving it a grand total of 3.8 net carbs!
Is Chayote Easy to Grow?
Chayote is common in Central and South America and grows the best in tropical or sub-tropical environments. However, they are easy to grow compared to other perennial vegetables.
You can grow chayote in containers, however, the yield will not be as great as growing them in the ground. Sow the seeds 10 feet apart if growing in the ground. They grow well with other squash, corn or peppers. Do not grow them with mint, celery or snap beans. Chayote are climbing plants, so you will want to trellis them or plant them near something they can climb on, like a fence.
If you’d like more tips on how to grow chayote, here is a post with videos and other helpful hints.
How to Peel and Cut Chayote
Though chayote can be consumed raw and with the peel on, removing the peel and cooking the chayote helps to make it softer.
To prepare chayote for the chicken mole recipe below, you need to peel off the skin, usually with a common vegetable peeler. It can then be cut into different sized pieces, depending on what you are making. Most often you can cut the fruit down the middle and then cut the halves into quarters. This makes it easy to remove the large seeds by scraping it out with a knife or spoon.
Other Dishes that Work with Chayote
Chayote is very versatile. Similarly to other squashes, you can broil, bake, fry or eat chayote raw. You can toss it in salads or puree it in soups. Here are a few of our favorite dishes using chayote:
- Baked chayote “apple” crisp
- Pickled chayote
- Chayote and carrot coleslaw
- Roasted chayote with sheet pan or traybake dinners
- Chayote, tomato and cucumber salad
Chayote also pairs well with ground pork or beef, shrimp, or eggs. It would be a great ingredient in spring rolls or cabbage rolls with any of these ingredients!
Other Versions of Low Carb Chicken Mole with or without Chayote
For an easier version of this recipe which uses a fresh mole powder rather than roasting and peeling the peppers, click here. For a really easy version of chicken mole without chayote and using a red sauce instead of yellow (Chicken Mole Rojo), click here.
Low Carb Chicken Mole with Chayote
- 3 dried guajillo chile peppers
- 1-2 dried ancho chile peppers
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 4 whole cloves
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- 4 tomatillos unpeeled
- 1 firm Roma tomatoes
- 1 onion unpeeled and cut into quarters
- 3 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp cold water
- 2 tsp masa harina or white corn meal
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 6 large chicken thighs skinless and boneless
- 1 medium chayote peeled and sliced into large chunks
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus
- cilantro to taste, optional
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat (no oil). You're going to roast (or toast) the first 7 ingredients in this skillet.
- First add all the chile peppers and roast 2-3 minutes, turning once. Remove from skillet and place on cutting board. Cut peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Place in a bowl and pour enough boiling water over the peppers to cover. Let them soak for about 10 minutes.
- While peppers are soaking, toast the peppercorns, cloves and cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes or until just fragrant. Remove from skillet and grind up in a spice grinder until finely ground.
- Roast the tomatillos, tomato and onion about 7 minutes or until charred, turning occasionally. Add the garlic for the last minute or so. Remove everything from heat until cool and then peel them. *note: you can put the tomatillos and tomato in a paper bag and close it up for a bit to make them easier to peel.
- Drain the chile peppers and add the peppers, peeled tomatillos, tomato and onion to a food processor and process until smooth. Add the spices and process until combined.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high and add the processed pepper mixture and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.
- In a small bowl whisk together the water and corn meal and add to the simmering pepper mixture. Cook briefly until it reaches a low boil.
- In a 6-quart Dutch oven, bring the 4 cups chicken broth to a boil. Add the chicken thighs and reduce the heat. Cover the pot and simmer about 15 minutes. Then add the chayote and asparagus. Simmer, covered 10-15 more minutes until chayote is tender.
- To serve: Transfer the chicken thighs and vegetables to a plate with a slotted spoon (unless you want more of a soup) and spoon the mole over the chicken and vegetables. Garnish with cilantro if desired.
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