This is a very pleasing salad. Although papayas come originally from Mexico, they are grown widely in Asia where they are often paired with peanuts, which give a happy textural contrast; and with lime which cuts through the rich, fleshiness of the papaya; and with ginger which gives the whole thing a bit of zing.
This is a particularly healthy salad thanks mostly to the papaya, which contains all kinds of vitamins and nutrients, in particular an enzyme called papain which aids digestion (great for IBS sufferers). And the peanuts, of course, donate protein to the mix.
Choose your papaya carefully; if it has a green ring around the stem end it won’t ripen – the fruit should be yellow all over. You can tell if the papaya is ripe because it will have a faintly sweet smell, and it shouldn’t be rock hard – it should be just a little soft. If you have bought an unripe papaya you can speed up the ripening process by putting it in a paper bag with an apple or banana.
NB – this salad doesn’t keep well.
Recipe for peanut and papaya salad
- 1 small papaya
- 200g/7 oz sugar snaps
- 2 spring onions
- A few leaves of basil
- 2 little gem lettuces
- 60g/½ cup dry roasted peanuts
- Juice and zest of a lime
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1 tbsp tamari sauce
- 1 tbsp tahini
- 2 cm/½” grated ginger
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Boil a kettle of water, pour it into a saucepan, salt it, and get it heating.
- Make the dressing by mixing the juice and zest of the lime; the olive oil; the tamari sauce; the tahini; the ginger and the maple syrup.
- Slice the sugar snaps diagonally to make them bite-sized, boil in the water for a couple of minutes.
- Cut the papaya lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Peel and slice the papaya. Shred the baby gem. Put both into a medium salad bowl.
- Drain the sugar snaps. Refresh under a very cold running tap.
- Add to the salad bowl.
- At the last minute dress the salad and toss.
- Serve garnished with the roasted peanuts.