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Chayote, Poblano and Leek Gratin with Amaranth

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    Posted: 20 February 2016 at 09:15

I made this as a side dish with the Lime Grilled Chicken recipe I posted earlier ( Fact is, though, it makes a great vegetarian meal on its own. Perfect for Lent.

Chayote, Poblano and Leek Gratin with Amaranth

For the cheese sauce:

2 tbls unsalted buttr
2 tbls all purpose flour
1 ¼ cups whole milk, warmed
1 cup shreeded Chihuahua or Monterey Jack cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Several glugs of hot sauce (optional)

For the filling:

3 tbls vegetable oil
2 leeks, white parts only, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 chayote squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 poblanos, chared, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
½ cup puffed amaranth

Preheat oven to 350F.

Make the cheese sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add flour and whisk for one minute to cook out the raw taste. Add the warm milk in a thin stream, constantly whisking so no lumps form. When all milk is added, continue stirring to thicken the sauce. This might take as much as three to four minutes. When sauce is thick, add cheeses a little at a time, whisking after each addition. Add salt and pepper to taste, and hot sauce if using. Remove from heat and reserve.

Make the filling: In a medium skillet heat two tablespoons of oil over medium-low heat. Cook the leeks until golden brown, 10-15 minutes. Add one more tablespoon oil and add the poblano strips and garlic to the pan. Cook for another four minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan and let cool.

In a buttered medium casserole mold, layer the ingredients, starting with chayote, then the leek & poblano mixture, then some of the sauce. Continue layering until all ingredients are used up, finishing with cheese sauce on top.

Cover the casserole and bake for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake 20 minutes more, until golden and bubbly. Top with amaranth and bake another three to four minutes. Serve warm.


1. I searched everywhere for puffed amaranth to no avail. But I did find puffed millet cereal and used that instead. It worked out fine.

2. There are, of course, several ways of charring peppers. This time I used the charcoal grill, specifically to impart a slight smoky flavor.

3. I didn’t think there was enough cheese sauce. In my case, using a large cazuella, I had three layers. Next time I’ll increase the milk to two cups. There’s enough flour to thicken it.

4. My chayote were on the largish size, so I wound up with eight good servings instead of the six specified in the recipe.

5. The poblanos worked perfectly in this dish, especially since one of us doesn’t tolerate heat very well. If you want to kick it up a notch, one poblano and a couple of serrano would work just as nicely. Of any combination of chilies you prefer. Jalapenos would be a good choice, in terms of heat. But I don’t care for them, because they don’t have much underlying flavor.

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket
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