One of the most fabulous things about living in a wild, exotic country like Bolivia is that you run across fabulous new things to cook with, like caigua.
This is caigua, or achojcha, a bland vegetable that tastes a little like zucchini (and you can also make this recipe with zucchini, or even okra), but caigua has a lovely hollow center perfect for stuffing. In fact, in the Andes, this veggie is sometimes known as “stuffing cucumber.”
Here is a fabulous authentic Bolivian recipe for Achojcha Rellena. My recipe is not at all authentic, but it is delicious. If you love Tex-Mex. Which you must.
Tex-Mex Stuffed Caigua
- 5 large caigua (or 3 medium zucchini, halved and hollowed)
- 5-6 slices of bacon
- 1 chicken breast
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2/3 cup salsa
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup white Mexican cheese (or if you must, mozzarella)
- 1/2 cup cooked white or brown rice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (200 Celsius).
Slit open each caigua and remove seeds.
Place in boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, until softened but not mushy.
Meanwhile, cook bacon in a thick skillet until crispy. Remove to a plate covered with paper towels to catch drippings. LEAVE the bacon fat in the pan. Yes, it’s a very good idea.
Slit the chicken breast in half and fold it open onto the skillet. Sprinkle half the pepper and half the paprika on the top of the breast. Cook for 5 minutes, covered. Flip the breast over and sprinkle on the rest of the spices. Cook for another 5 minutes. Make a small cut in the chicken to check for any un-cooked parts. If chicken seems under-cooked, flip over once more and cook another 5 minutes.
Chop bacon and chicken into small pieces.
Mix chicken, bacon, salsa, cilantro, cheese, and rice. So, all the ingredients.
Oops, forgot the rice. Don’t forget the rice.
This will not look as pretty once its all mixed together. But trust me, it tasted heavenly.
Fill each softened caigua shell.
Stop a second to admire your work.
Cook at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted through.
This is a picture perfect company meal. An adventure, yes, but a sure-fire one.