If you have ever looked at a fresh papaya and thought, “what do I do with this?”, you’re not alone. I passed by a fruit market in the mission a few months ago and was like what?! Papaya for $1?! SOLD! And I got in the car, and my husband looked at me and said, “So…what are you going to do with that?” Obviously, I gave him a smart answer, “Eat it. Duh.” But in my head I was thinking, “Crap. What am I going to do with this!?”
So, I cut it up and realized it smelled like wet gym clothes. Yuck. I never ate it, and it sat in my fridge for a week until it really smelled like a teenage boy’s room. Fast forward to Thanksgiving when my fellow vegan coworker adopted me for the evening. I decided to do something different.
Have you ever heard of the phrase “are we braising our papayas?” I hadn’t either until I heard Effie Brown say it when I was watching Project Greenlight about a week earlier. Did you know you could braise a papaya?! Me either. I wanted to change my mind about this fruit…and sweaty gym clothes, so I tried it!
Papaya and pineapple are seasonally summer/fall fruits but can be found all year round. In 3.5 ounces, papaya fruit provides 43 calories, is an excellent source of vitamin C (75% of the Daily Value, DV), and contains 10% DV of folate. It also only has roughly 8 grams of sugar, so it’s perfect with the extra sweet pineapple (nearly 10 grams in every 3.5 ounces). It’s all about balance, people. Pineapple, contains a very high percent DV of vitamin C as well at 58% and manganese at 44%. This dish is great if you are trying to boost the ol’ immune system!
Turned out, that even though the papaya can smell like sweaty gym clothes when you first cut it open, it certainly doesn’t taste like them after a little bit of love and heat. I love this dish because you’ll totally be surprised how good and substantial warm fruit can be, and you’ll also be shocked that fruit can be savory too!
- 1 whole papaya (1-1.5 lbs)
- 1 whole pineapple (1-2 lbs)
- Olive oil or grapeseed oil
- Red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
- 1-2 tbs fresh tarragon
- 1 tbs dried thyme
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Peel papaya with a vegetable peeler, deseed and cube into 1-2 inch chunks
- Cut down and cube pineapple into 1-2 inch chunks
- In a large bowl, combine fruits and toss generously in olive oil (1-1.5 tbs)
- Add dried spices and with a wooden spoon toss to incorporate
- Spread fruit out on a parchment or silpat lined baking pan or other shallow pan (something with about a 1 inch wall- this dish gets juicy!)
- Remove tarragon leaves from stem (pinch your first finger and thumb together, and from the end drag down the stem in the opposite direction that the leaves grow) and toss leaves and stems on top of the fruit
- Put in the oven and cook until tops of fruit start to brown (about 20 minutes)
- Crank up the oven to 425 (or you could set your oven to broil) and cook for about 8-10 minutes until edges of fruit become caramelized.
- Remove from oven and put in a serving dish.
- Tastes great served fresh from the oven, room temperature, or even chilled the next day! Enjoy!