I love a good ripe, sweet and juicy papaya, but I actually eat most of my papaya in its unripened state. In fact, a lot of countries where papaya is prevolent, particularly in the Southeast Asia and Pacific regions, consume it largely in its green state as well, more as a vegetable, whether cooked or raw. Orange papayas have a lot of nutritious properties like Vitamins A, B, and C, carotenes, potassium, magnesium, and fiber– but green papaya actually contains other health benefits that are lessened once the fruit ripens. One of these includes a milky enzyme called papain, which you will notice dripping from the stem when you harvest papayas or see it oozing out when you begin to peel the skin off. This enzyme aids in healthy digestion, particularly to help break down proteins and make nutrients more readily available and absorbable to the body– and it is found in particularly high concentrations in green papayas.
Aside from the health aspect, I just love papaya salads for their light, crisp, and fresh flavor, which make it a perfect summer dish. Since it’s practically summer year-round in Hawaii, it makes it a perfect everyday dish. As we have a wide variety of papayas on our farm available, I like to make this salad at least once a week. So, if you also have access to good, organic, GMO-free papayas, I highly recommend incorporating this healthy salad into your weekly diet too!
- 2 large green papayas
- 2 carrots
- 1/2 red onion
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped finely)
- 1 green onion (chopped finely)
- Nub of ginger
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 small cayenne
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- 1 cup virgin olive oil
- 1/8 cup coconut aminos (or shoyu)
- 2 tbsp coconut palm sugar (or sub sucanat or regular sugar)
- Himalayan pink salt to taste
- Small handful of chopped macadamia nuts or peanuts (optional)
- Bundle of kale or mizuna (optional)
- Vegetable peeler
- Papaya slicer
- Ginger grater/zester
- Garlic press
- Citrus juicer
- Glass bowl
Begin by peeling off the green skins of the papayas with a vegetable peeler. You may need a small knife to get around certain curves or dents in the papaya, depending on the shape. Next, slice the papayas into thin, long strips with the papaya slicer. You can slice it directly into a bowl, but if the papaya is somewhat slippery, an easy way I’ve discovered to do this step is to place the papaya flat on a cutting board and to slice it on the top (always in the direction away from whichever hand that is gripping the papaya), rotating it around. Slice around the whole papaya until you have reached the center, trying not to break it open down to the seeds. Then, you will want to peel the carrots with the vegetable peeler and then repeat the same process of slicing the carrots into thin strips with the papaya slicer. Again, the method of placing the carrot on the cutting board makes the process a lot easier. Next, cut a red onion in half, placing the flat side of the onion down on the cutting board and cut it vertically so that you create thin, long strips of the onion as well. Afterwards, juice half a lemon and place the sliced onion in a glass bowl with the juice and a little bit of salt. Stir it up, and allow the onion to marinate in the lemon juice for 5 minutes or more– or until you have everything else for the salad prepared.
Now you can start to prepare the dressing. Measure out one cup of olive oil, 1/8 cup of coconut aminos, 2 tablespoons of coconut palm sugar and place into the blender. Juice the other half of the lemon, remove seeds, and place into the blender as well. Then take your nub of ginger, remove the skins, and with a ginger grater or citrus zester, grate the ginger into the blender. Next, with a garlic press, squeeze one clove into the blender. Finally, add one cayenne pepper and a little salt to taste and then pulse everything in the blender until it is mixed well.
Once your dressing is prepared, chop a bundle of fresh cilantro until you have approximately 1/4 cup. Similarly chop one green onion finely. Add on top of your sliced papaya and carrot. Then add in the onion that has been marinating. Finally, add your dressing and mix everything up well. Add any extra salt to taste. Finally, plate and serve. If you want to add a little green to this salad, an optional way to also enjoy the salad is on top of a bed of kale or mizuna or top it with some chopped macnuts or peanuts for a little crunch.