Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spicy Papaya Pie--A Carotene Bomb

These days papayas are everywhere in Washington DC. They come mostly from China. They are yellow outside and intensely orange inside because they are very rich in carotene (vitamin A). For this reason papayas were introduced in Africa and in South East Asia, to prevent blindness among children. Since it is such a healthy and nutritious fruit, I have already written about it on my blog and I keep trying to incorporate papaya in my family's diet. But, besides that one recipe and fruit salads where I often include papaya, I am still in search of a perfect papaya recipe.

As I mentioned in my other post, I ate a savory papaya dish at one of my friends' house. I enjoyed it very much, especially that I do not eat scallops which it was served with. I was not able to contact my friend, who lives right now somewhere in Africa, to get exactly the details of that recipe, but this dish was so unique and tasty that really tried to reproduce it and started to experiment myself.

Through a trial and error process, I created something that reminded me of that savory dish he served. This dish stays slightly on the sweet side like anything made of carrot, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes, but I think it came out quite interesting. I made one vegetarian version of it and one with prosciutto. On the picture you see bacon, although at the last moment I decided to go for something more delicate and I used prosciutto instead. I think it was a good decision as bacon could have overshadowed the taste of the papaya. I prefer papaya with prosciutto, if is served as a stand-alone dish with baguette or as a seafood accompaniment (like my friend did it), but a purely vegetarian version is also worth trying.

Spicy Papaya Pie

1 small very ripe papaya,
1 egg,
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan,
1 small onion, chopped,
4 cloves garlic,
1 tbsp all purpose flour,
2 tbsp sour cream (heavy whipping would also make),
1/2 cup chopped parsley,
1/2 cup prosciutto ( optional) cut into strips,
3 tbsp oil,
1 tsp salt,
1/4 tsp pepper,
1 tsp red smoked pepper,
a pinch of Cayenne pepper (or more depending on how spicy you like it),
2 tbsp breadcrumbs.

1. Peel off papaya and and cut into small cubes, squeezing gently some of the extra juice. Put in a large bowl.
2. Heat 2 tbsp oil and fry onion for about 3 minutes. Add prosciutto and fry for additional 1-2 minutes.
3. Add onion with prosciutto to papaya and follow with garlic, egg, flower, cream, parsley, Parmesan, and all the spices.
4. Using a blender grind the whole mixture until it resembles cottage cheese. If you do not have a blender you can just grate papaya on a big hole grinder and add all the other ingredients.
5. Spread another tbsp of oil all over the baking dish and sprinkle it with half of breadcrumbs. Cut garlic into slices and arrange over the bottom of the dish (it will be absorbed into the papaya during baking).
6. Put the papaya mixture into the dish, and cover with remaining breadcrumbs on top.
7. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until breadcrumbs are gold and the papaya almost brown.

Serve warm.