Thursday, September 16, 2010

Papaya Dressing--Healthy Hollywood Fashion

Papaya is a very nutritious fruit coming originally from Central America but it now can be bought in most supermarkets all over the world. I have been a great papaya aficionado for many years. Thai salads with green papaya are excellent but I mostly use ripe papayas to make fruit salads or something else.

Papaya has one third more Vitamin C and twice as much Potassium than you can find in orange juice and, on top of that, it is also a good source of Vitamins E, A, and K. No wonder papaya has many "believers" among Hollywood celebrities. It has been claimed that it irons out wrinkles and speeds up metabolism. It is considered to be so healthy that some stars stay just on a papaya only diet for days, or at least drink a papaya smoothie everyday as a first morning drink, mixed with tomatoes, strawberries, mango, or just water.

Until recently, I was eating papaya mostly for these healthy and rational reasons. I made some papaya-banana or papaya-mango smoothies with a squeeze of lime, and I tried to make various desserts including papaya, which I found tricky, because its delicate taste was not always easy to bring out.

Once, I ate at my friend's place a delicious dish made of baked papaya with grilled scallops and garlic. I will try to obtain his recipe and will post it in the future. But I think that this healthy fruit should be served fresh as much as possible, so all its nutrients remain intact and can benefit our body.

I have bought it today again not only for its nutritional values but also for its photogeneity. Looking at this interesting fruit, and its dark orange flesh, I was struck by an idea to make an exotic salad dressing from it. I thought that adding vinegar would make it taste stronger. I think it worked pretty well and I enjoyed how it made many simple dishes taste more interesting and mysterious.

I have made a big  jar of it and used for many purposes. Papaya stores pretty well in a refrigerator but a dressing made from it thickens next day and acquires a jelly-like consistence, so it is better to eat it the same day you make it. Here are some of my ideas.

Papaya dressing

1 and 1/2 cup papaya cut into cubes,
1/2 cup of grape seed oil (which is more neutral in taste than olive oil),
1/4 cup of white balsamic vinegar or other good quality white vinegar,
1 shallot,
salt and pepper,
black cumin to decorate.

1. Peel off papaya and remove black seeds.
2. Cut the fruit in pieces and put about 1 and 1/2 cup of it in a blender.
3. Add chopped shallot, vinegar, and oil.
4. Season with salt and pepper,and blend into a smooth puree.
5. Use black cumin for decorating and to enhance the taste.

Spread this dressing on top of an avocado.

Serve on a delicate lettuce, such as Boston, Romaine hearts, or Iceberg.

Use as a dip for shrimps for a party snack (e.g., instead of the much heavier mayonnaise dressing or a spicy tomato dressing).

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