Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Papaya & red onion salad

Every time I start to get unbearably broody (typing that sentence feels totally surreal, newcomer that I am to the idea that having kids might actually be desirable), I recall myself as a teenager, and that oogy woogy feeling of I-want-me-a-bebe magically evaporates, albeit temporarily.

I mean, I was a NIGHTMARE. Of the Elm Street variety. I know two-year-olds are often described as conniving little sociopaths, evil little vortexes of id, but teenagers can operate with a level of sophistication that would make Hannibal Lector seem kind of lightweight.

I was a lying, thieving, manipulative reprobate. I honestly don’t know how my parents survived. Where my friends were tentatively participating in illicit activities, I embraced them with an appetite for destruction that to this day I find appalling and breathtaking and kind of awesome. 

This is neither here nor there — I was just thinking back to the first time I encountered this salad. My mom made it when I was in full psychopathic teen mode. I remember thinking, Is she trying to KILL ME? Why don’t you just give me sardines and condensed milk LACED WITH CYANIDE? How about kidneys and custard? Chicken and chocolate pudding?! 

And then I tasted it, of course, and had one of those culinary revelations that influence your relationship with food forever. The idea that red onion and papaya could complement each other was entirely foreign to me, but of course now I know that it’s a riff on fruit salsa, and I understand why it works.

My poor parents. I can’t remember if I even admitted to liking it.

I know papaya is a bit summery for this time of year, but I found one as big as my torso at the market this weekend, so I am going to go ahead and assume it’s in season. This salad is brilliant with roasted salmon trout, and should go well with chicken on the braai.

Sweet papaya, tangy, crunchy onion, salty dressing...

Thanks mom.  

Papaya & red onion salad

Papaya, sliced
Red onion, finely sliced
Balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

I am not going to talk amounts. You can make whatever ratio of onion to papaya you like — I only used half an onion in enough salad for two. I also prefer to cut the onion very finely, but you might like it chunky. It does need the dressing (1 part balsamic vinegar to 2 parts olive oil) to be well salted though. I recommend just laying the pieces on a platter and drizzling the dressing on top — if you toss it together the papaya is likely to get smooshed.

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