Papaya’s Perfect for Summer

As summer arrives, this is the perfect time to enjoy papaya. If you are already acquainted with it, perhaps one pleasant result of visiting a tropical locale, let me inspire you to serve it more often, including in savory dishes, like this chicken salad.Happily, whether papaya is a new experience or you already like it, eating it is easy since it is often one of the cut-up fruits most supermarkets now sell.

For me, the flesh of a papaya looks like that of a melon or mango lit with the intense glow of a sunset. (Although sometimes actually called papaya melon, they are not related.) Far softer than any melon, most of the papayas we get taste just mildly sweet. At first, I found this strange, since my first papaya experiences were the sugary drink sold at sidewalk stands in New York City. Now, though, I prefer eating the actual fruit.

Even when you buy papayas whole, they do not taste like the tree-ripened ones you might have had in the tropics. Still, they have a unique melt-in-your-mouth quality and musky, lightly sweet flavor that goes particularly well with chicken or shrimp in main-course dishes. Papaya is good with tomatoes in salsa and with other tropical fruits or melons, too. The flesh of a papaya can be yellow, pinkish orange, salmon red or deep rose and its skin may be green, yellow, orange or rose, depending on the type of papaya and how ripe it is. Whatever the color, and no matter if it comes looking like a large avocado the size of a football, the flesh of commercially-grown papayas tastes fairly similar and slices or dices easily.

Someone once had me taste the shiny, caviar-like black seeds of a papaya. If you like their uniquely peppery flavor as much as I do, sprinkle a few of them over this succulent salad as an intriguing garnish.

You can chop everything but the papaya ahead, then assemble this salad that can conveniently use up any roasted or grilled chicken leftover from a previous meal.

Papaya, Red Pepper and Pecan Salad with Chicken - Makes 4 servings.
(adapted from the New American Plate Cookbook)

8 cups torn romaine lettuce leaves
2 medium, ripe papaya, peeled, halved, seeded and cubed
1 large red bell pepper, halved, seeded and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 scallions, white part only
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp. fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 lb. cooked boneless chicken, diced
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted*

In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce, papaya, bell pepper and scallions. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, broth, honey, garlic and mustard. Slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream and whisk the dressing until it is well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the salad, add the chicken and toss until well combined. Top with the pecans and serve.

*To toast the pecans, put them in a small skillet over medium-high heat and stir frequently for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned. Immediately transfer the nuts to a small dish and cool.

Per serving: 362 calories, 15 g. total fat (2 g. saturated fat), 29 g. carbohydrate, 30 g. protein, 7 g. dietary fiber, 115 mg. sodium.

The Author:

“Something Different” is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association which operates as the umbrella organization for the network .The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (www.wcrf-uk.org); Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (www.wcrf-nl.org); World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (www.wcrf-hk.org); and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (www.fmrc.fr).

Article Source: Aicr.org

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