“What am I going to make for supper?” That is a question I ask myself fairly often. I don't like to be stuck in the ever-repeating cycle of making the same things all the time, so I'm always trying to come up with new and different recipes to make at home.
Inspiration comes to me in many different ways. It could be a memory, a visit to the farmer’s market, the pages in a magazine, or a conversation with a friend. And quite often, it’s a craving.
In the case of this recipe, it was a craving. I wanted to eat chayotes, but again, I wanted to eat them in a different way. That’s how this recipe came about. I like to make simple recipes. We are all busy and want to eat delicious food, but we don’t want to necessarily spend three hours in the kitchen every night.
A simple béchamel sauce gets a mound of cheese mixed in, and is then layered with sliced chayotes, poblanos, and caramelized leeks. A little while in the oven and this vegetarian casserole makes a perfect complement to any dinner.
An interesting ingredient in this recipe is the popped amaranth. Amaranth is a protein-rich pseudo-grain that has been used in Mexico for centuries. It's the main ingredient in the sweet bars called alegrías. In this recipe, the amaranth topping adds a boost of protein and a crunchy layer to the finished casserole.
The next time you are at a loss for a side dish to bring to a potluck or party, think of this casserole. It is unusual, but very delicious with its cheesy sauce, green, crunchy chayote, mildly spicy poblano, and crunchy amaranth topping. I think your friends will approve.