Monday, June 27, 2011

Papaya and Basil Salad

Continuing with the theme of what we had for dinner on Friday night, here is the recipe for Papaya and Basil Salad. Sounds weird right? Well, I probably never would have given this recipe a second look if I had found it myself, but luckily for me, it was served to me two years ago by a friend and I immediately fell in love. Beth found the recipe in this cool New York Times article written by Mark Bittman called "Recipes for 101 Simple Salads for the Season" published in 2009. Check it out here if you want to see all of the recipes.

I have made it many, many times since. While it does have a lot of sugar, the vast majority of the dressing/marinade gets poured off before you serve the salad. What is left is a sweet and sour concoction that works well as a side dish or even on top of a green salad.

I happen to love papaya, so that may have something to do with my feelings for this salad. If you are not a papaya aficionado, I highly recommend asking your grocer to show you what a ripe papaya looks like (it's not pretty). Any papaya will ripen at home on your counter, which is a good thing and is more than can be said for many fruits that you get these days.

The papaya on the right is ripe, but my experience is that a ripe papaya can have lesions all over the skin that look very unappetizing. Don't be dismayed! The fruit on the inside is delicious!

Ripe papayas don't always look pretty.

You will want to cut the papaya in half length wise and scoop out all of the little black seeds.

Papaya and Basil Salad
inspired by a recipe by Mark Bittman
Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Printable Recipe

1 really ripe papaya, seeds and skin removed and cut into 1 1/2" chunks
1 or 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup (a handful) fresh basil, sliced
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar (I used organic sucanat, which is dried cane juice and is much less processed than white sugar)
1 tsp salt

Combine vinegar, sugar and salt in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Stir and remove from heat when sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

In a bowl, put papaya chunks, carrots and basil. Toss with vinegar marinade. Allow to marinate for 10 to 20 minutes and then strain off excess liquid before serving. Serve immediately.

If you would like to prep the marinade and the papaya, carrot, basil mixture ahead of time and keep them separate in the refrigerator, then toss right before serving, that would work well.

What is your experience with papaya? Love it or never had it?

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