Origin: Central America and Mexico
Definition: A summer squash that can be eaten young, or left to grow large like a watermelon; pronounced chill-a-cah-yo-teh.
Synonyms: Fig-leafed gourd
Uses: If it’s young, cook as you would zucchini. If it’s giant, candy it as in Mexico and Central and South America: Peel, then simmer for hours in water with brown sugar and cinnamon until it’s coated with gooey syrup. The black and white seeds are baked into a brittlelike candy called palanquetas.
Grow it: While chilacayote is easy to grow—put it in a sunny spot and give it plenty of space—finding seeds is nearly impossible.