Crunchy Chayote Papaya Salad gives you a reason to bring home papaya you might otherwise overlook. Have you ever bought papaya at the farmers market or grocery store hoping to eat it soon and found you had to wait a week for it to ripen? Likely it only took once before you dismissed those disappointing green papayas. Well, we all know how to make outstanding banana bread from black and mushy bananas. Here is a recipe that sings with under-ripe papaya.
In the same way over-ripe bananas make the sweetest and most flavorful banana bread, choosing papaya at a particular stage is what makes this refreshing salad so fantastic. Most papayas you find at the market aren’t ripe yet. On the other hand, they are often too soft to make a traditional Thai-style green papaya salad. That’s precisely what is so terrific about this dish. You want papaya that is firm and sturdy but has ripened a little past the dark green, rock-hard stage.
Look for a papaya that is light green with only a small patch of yellow, or none at all. At this in-between stage, you can cut it with a sharp kitchen knife. The papaya will be mildly sweet. The inside flesh should be firm and just beginning to reveal its lovely hue.
So what else goes into this mouthwatering salad? One of my other favorite fruits, most often thought of as a vegetable. That is crisp and juicy chayote. There isn’t an exact substitute for chayote. However, jicama or daikon can be used successfully for this recipe. If you have one, a spiralizer makes fabulous curly noodles from any of these hard vegetables.
Once the fruits and vegetables are prepared, the salad is tossed with perky fresh herbs and topped with toasted sunflower seeds. The citrus and mild chili dressing is easy to whip up. It’s so tasty you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful. Whisk it together and drizzle it over the salad after it has been plated. You are in for a kaleidoscope of sensational juicy pleasure with each crunchy mouthful.
Crunchy Chayote Papaya Salad
- 2 cups spiral cut chayote, at least 1/4 inch thick
- 1/2 cup julienne sliced red pepper
- 1 cup julienne sliced under-ripe papaya
- 1/2 cup sliced green onion
- 1/4 cup sliced fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup sliced fresh mint
- 4 TB toasted sunflower seeds
- 2 TB ripe kalamansi lime juice*
- 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- Toast sunflower seeds and hold aside.
- Prepare papaya, chayote, red pepper and herbs by using spiralizer, or slicing as described. Lightly toss everything lightly together in a bowl.
- Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl or shake in a jar.
- Plate salad portions and drizzle dressing over the top just before serving. Top with toasted sunflower seeds.