One of my favorite parts of my day to day life in Guatemala is exploring the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables available at the local market. Once in awhile, when I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll buy something without really knowing what it is.
Last week, that was this mystery vegetable, one of the many “calabazas” (pumpkins):
After carrying this heavy sucker home, I experienced some serious buyer’s regret. What on earth was I supposed to do with this?!
The next morning at work, I explained my predicament to Ligia and luckily, she not only knew what it was but happened to have a recipe for it!
Meet the AYOTE - a species of winter squash native to Mesoamerica.
The recipe: Ayote en dulce
[Big thanks to Ligia + her mom for this one!]
This hearty autumn dessert is traditionally enjoyed for Día de los Muertos. Day of the Dead is celebrated November 1st throughout Latin America, but most famously in Mexico. In Guatemala in particular, it’s celebrated with kite festivals...
...and ayote en dulce! Here’s what you’ll need to make your own:
1 mid-sized ayote
2-3 purple sweet potatoes (camote)
1 block of panela, unrefined whole cane sugar
A large pot of water
If you can’t find these ingredients where you are, we think these substitutions may work:
Pumpkin for ayote
Yams for purple sweet potatoes
Brown sugar for panela
This recipe is rather straight forward--the hardest part for us was chopping the ingredients into the sizes we wanted. But the struggle made it extra yummy ;)
Luckily, our gardener Don Lancho, helped us part the ayote with his machete!
First, grate the panela and add it to the large pot of boiling water. The pieces only have to be small enough that they dissolve.
Chop the ayote and sweet potatoes into mid-sized chunks, leaving the skin on so that they don’t get too soft when boiled. Remove the goopy seeds from inside the ayote. Add to pot, making sure there’s enough room for them to cook.
Boil for fifteen minutes, then turn down to simmer for another forty five, stirring occasionally.